105-year-old veteran remembers lost brothers-in-arms on Memorial Day

Writer: Camila Pereira
Published: Updated:

Each Memorial Day former Lieutenant Colonel Donald (Don) Longer has lived through, he’s done so with a heavy heart.

He’s been carrying his burden for a very long time. Don is 105 years old.

“This is a sad day for me,” he said. “It reminds me of my two wonderful brothers that I had, who lost their lives in World War II. William was lost in Europe. And Jack, who was lost in the Philippines.”

And on Monday, Don remembered all of his brothers-in-arms he lost in his decades of service. He fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“Well, I was in the service. I didn’t have a choice,” Don said. “In Korea, I flew C-47s. Took supplies to Korea and picked up the wounded and brought them back to Japan.”

But in 1969, Don decided to retire, and that’s when he had to come to grips with his feelings of loss.

“I remember having mixed feelings, being glad that I was going home and feeling sorry for those who were left behind,” he said. “War, however you like it, is hell. It really is. Vietnam was the worst. I think it was the worst of all wars that I experienced anyway.”

And back at home, safe and sound, Don continued to serve. He got into construction and built single-family affordable homes.

“It was wonderful to see the faces of the people who got the homes for free,” Don said. “They were so grateful. I often wish I could do it over again, but everything in your life moves on for the better.”

Because Don knows the price so many people paid for all of our lives to be better.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.