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97-year-old World War II veteran and his brother reflect on what Memorial Day means to them

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 29, 2017

SOUTH LEBANON, Ohio -- Howard Halcomb and his younger brother Arnold know the true meaning of Memorial Day since Howard lost friends and fellow soldiers on the World War II battlefield.

"What do I think kids should know about Memorial Day?" Arnold Halcomb asked. "I think they should be educated more about what the soldiers went through and fought for them for their freedom."

During World War II, Arnold looked up to his older brother, Howard, who served as a staff sergeant in the Fourth armored Division, which was the spearhead of the third army commanded by General Patton. He always felt a little guilty that he was too young to fight alongside his brother although he did serve in Germany after the war.

Talking about Memorial Day brings Howard right back to the day he lost two of his best friends when German planes attacked.

Howard had just walked away from his truck to the command post when the planes appeared; his friend took over the machine gun that Howard typically manned since he was away.

"Frank Beshimi was laying under his truck. He had been hit in the stomach. I got up into my truck and Ted Huber was laying flat on his back. And just staring up, he looked up at me and he said, 'That gun went all to hell on me,'" Howard said. "He took my place ... That would've been me. Yes, it would."

Today, Howard is 97; his brother Arnold is 91.

"Memorial Day means so much to me because I lost such good friends," Howard said. "I know what happened and I know how it happened."