Ben Nash

Ben Nash describes the dangerous landings during island invasions in the South Pacific.

TEXARKANA, Texas -- Ben Nash will soon celebrate a big birthday, turning 101. We went to visit so he could tell us about when he was not yet 21 and drafted into the Army for World War II.

Ben got his draft notice just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was Dec. 7, 1941.

"I was proud," Ben says of his chance to serve.

He was sent with infantry to the South Pacific. His first battle was at Guadalcanal where he says there was danger from the start.

"Our toughest battle was landing. Getting on the island," he recalled. "They (the Japanese) had battleships up there firing them big guns to the beach. There was no way to get down and get out of the way.

"That's what got most of them boys," Ben added somberly of his fallen comrades. "You learned to be a soldier real quick. And you learn what they taught you."

Then came more island invasions – New Georgia and New Guinea. That meant more jungle fighting.

"Most of the time you didn't know if you were successful in killing anybody or not," Ben says.

And finally for Ben was the Battle of Manila in The Philippines.

"You didn't fight in those islands without having close calls," Ben said, noting that his training helped get him through the war.

He earned enough battle points to come home before we dropped the atomic bombs to end the war in the Pacific.

"I'm proud of this hat," Ben said with a tug on the bill of his World War II Army veteran cap. "But I was glad to get home."

Ben says two brothers also made it back from the war. Ben went back to plumbing supply sales, based in Shreveport, before helping start up the Double Jay Supply Co. in Texarkana.

Ben turns 101 on Sunday, Aug. 2.

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