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Life of Service: Bill Hunter

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It was one of most feared weapons of the second world war, the kamikaze. And one Bossier City man faced them more than once.

From the time they were little boys, they were trained for death. M
ost of them were between the ages of 16 and 20... about the age when Bill Hunter broke out.

"December 7th and I broke out of school," Hunter says.

He was just 17 on a tanker converted into a aircraft carrier. He patched up planes when enemies shot them.

In April 1944, 19-year-old Bill Hunter finds himself in the midst of the one of the greatest naval battles of the war -- Leyte Gulf -- and face to face with another group of teenagers locked into a plane with no parachute, no landing gear and no way out. They faced a flying bomb, the Japanese military's final desperate attempt to turn back the American Navy.

"It went through the flight deck and the engine exploded below," Hunter says. "It killed almost everyone that day... eight in the shop. Only three survived."

Bill was one of the survivors. But the next day the kamakes came again...

"When it hit the bridge, it liquidated everybody on the flight deck," Hunter says. "I got real lucky."

In a few weeks almost 3,000 kamakes were shot down. They would kill more than 4,000 young Americans and damage dozens of ships. For years after the war, Bill had nightmares.

"You can't imagine the feeling," Hunter recalls.

However, 70 years later, Bill Hunter is just happy to be alive -- and proud to hold his purple heart.
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