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99-year-old WWII veteran honored at Memorial Day weekend ceremony

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 12:22 AM EDT
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MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Despite Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of summer, the day’s true meaning calls on us to remember those who served our country.

It also includes passing along the stories of veterans who served from one generation to the next.

One of those veterans is 99-year-old Clarence Tompkins, a World War II veteran who was honored by The American Legion in Murrells Inlet on Sunday.

Many people came to hear what it was like for Tompkins in the army and he says he couldn’t feel more honored.

“I feel pretty good,” he said.

Tompkins also has two Purple Hearts, along with a Silver Star and Two Bronze Stars as well as additional medals from his service in France.

He’s also one of the few World War II veterans left to pass along their stories.

His daughter, Pat Tompkins-McCormick was by his side helping him tell his account of D-Day.

“The boats that were taking them in the first wave could not go all the way to the shore,” she said. “So they had to wade in water up to their waists.”

In inspiration, Tompkins says he did all he could to simply survive.

“All you gotta do is fight, fight, fight,” he said. “We had half of the men killed.”

For the younger generations, stories from the front lines could be lost in time.

“They have great stories to tell, and these stories will never be told I’m afraid,” said Ed McCormick, a member of The American Legion.

Tompkins-McCormick said that the younger generation is making an effort to learn veterans’ accounts during Memorial Day at family gatherings or attending community events.

“I think it is very special that the younger generation knows what veterans are going through,” she said.

Having her father still around also helps with keeping those stories alive for their family.

“He is still around we are still enjoying him,” said Tompkins-McCormick. “My kids are still enjoying him. We’ve got grandkids and great-grandkids. So they’re all learning from him. That is special to him.”

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