To mark Veteran’s Day, Explorer staff reporter and photographer Randy Metcalf recently visited with World War II veterans to hear their stories.

Dave Meyer

Born: Oct. 19, 1920

Branch: Army

Highest rank: Colonel

How has war changed you?

“Well, I had 33 years in there. It changed my whole life. We had a great experience. We got to live in Paris for four years. I got to work in Special Forces…As far as doing good – that was the most good I did in the military.”

Would you do it again?

“I most certainly would.”

Memorable story: Bolivia

“These commando pilots are flying us and one turns around and says, ‘We’re about to run out of gas.’ He says, ‘You better hook up to your parachutes. We’re gonna jump.’ I said to myself ‘We’re gonna jump?!’ Then he changed his mind and says, ‘Nope, we’re gonna try and land.’ Then we ran out of gas right as we were landing.”

Don Crabtree

Born: Dec. 25, 1923

Branches: Army, Navy, Marines

Highest rank: Major (Army)

How has war changed you?

“I think I grew up quicker. Being in the service, being in combat and doing things that most kids didn’t do until they were older. I saw combat before I was 19 years old. I saw it in Guadalcanal. I guess that’s one of the reasons I joined the service — my dad always talked about action but he never saw any. The only action he saw was guard duty.”

Would you do it again?

“In a minute. If I was young enough and well enough, I would go back in a minute”

Memorable story: Joining

“I was in three branches — Army, Navy and Marine Corps. I went into the service when I was 16 and lied about my age, with my dad’s approval. When the war broke out, I was transferred to the Marine Corps into their hospital division as a hospital corpsman.”

Doris Flack

Born: Aug. 16, 1920

Branch: Navy nurse corps

Highest rank: Full Lieutenant

How has war changed you?

“My time in the Navy was an enjoyable time. The Navy treated me very well so I had no problems.”

Would you do it again?

“I detached myself – I always have been. I take things as they come.”

Memorable story: joining

“I had a classmate — a friend of mine, and we decided we were going to join together. We had made arrangements to go in together. I got called in and she wasn’t called at the same time. That was a problem because I didn’t want to go alone but I had to go. So I went and said ‘you will be here in a few weeks.’ But, she never got there because they sent her somewhere else when she went in. We never were together throughout the whole war.”

Evan ‘Rog’ Rogers

Born: Dec. 9, 1917

Branches: Army, Air Force

Highest rank: Colonel

How has war changed you?

“Back then, I just put it out of my mind. That was one way to handle all of our missions we flew. Just not to think about it. We thought about what we had to do. A lot of the people, I noticed, they worried about getting shot or being shot down and it really upset them for a while. In fact we had one kid that got excited and opened his parachute before the door opened. And it went out and he got pulled against the side of the airplane and it broke his neck. I just put it out of my mind.”

Would you do it again?

“Oh, I suppose if I was young, you know. I had never been [west of] the Mississippi.”

Memorable story: Long flight

“I just sat at the nose and there were two pilots. During the cold war — we flew from here, to Libya to Iceland to the North Pole back to England and then back to here — 22 hours. And we had an atomic bomb in the back, and I had to load that. At that time we had to load them by hand.”

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