BEMUS POINT – An area World War II Veteran is remembering his service nearly 80 years later.
Phillip Wight, 96, an Army Air Force veteran, says he first enlisted to serve alongside his brother in 1941 after the United States was attacked in Pearl Harbor.
Wight, a radio operator and gunner on a Boeing B-17 ‘Flying Fortress,’ says his proudest moment of service was helping feed the starving in a German-occupied Holland part of Operation Chowhound.
“When you’re flying a B-17 at treetop height you change the color in your pants,” explained Wight. “You’re throwing food out and you’re standing in an open bomb bay, the plane is at low altitude and its all over the sky because of airflow, and you got plans all around you doing the same damn thing.”
He said it wasn’t until the 1990s when he felt validated and forgiveness for his actions during the war.
“I was walking in Hilton Head one day, on the beach, I came to a guy and he said, ‘hello’ in broken English, I said, ‘you’re not from around here,’ and he said, ‘no I’m from Amsterdam,’ I said, ‘oh I know Amsterdam,’ I said, ‘we dropped food for you guys,’ he said, ‘you were one of those,’ he says, ‘I was standing on the top of a building watching you flying and dropping all the food, I couldn’t believe you guys didn’t crash into each other but your saved our lives,’” explained Wight.
“I had to sit down because something came over me, and I felt a hand on my shoulder, and it felt like the lord was saying to me ‘Phil, I’m forgiving you for your sins, because instead of bombs you we were dropping food and saving people,’” said Wight.
Wight also recalled losing his brother after his plane was shot down over the Himalayan mountains.
“Radio contact over the Himalayans is horrible because of the mountains so they lost their way and ran out of fuel and crashed,” said Wight. “We found out what happened many years later after they found their bodies.”
On Veterans Day, Wight hope all American’s can come together to remember and honor all who have served. He says he is grateful for his freedoms in the United States and honored to have served in World War II.
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