Luck is something that served Stewart Boone well in World War II as he fought off German troops in Belgium while the Battle of the Bulge was in full swing. That luck shows up in a black and white photo he keeps to this day which shows him along with ten other soldiers who made it out of that fight.
“You hate the loss of those not pictured there, but we all did what we had to do,” Boone said.
The "Lucky 11," as they were dubbed, made it out, but so many of their brothers in arms did not.
As German tanks rolled into Bulligen, Belgium, Boone’s unit was caught off guard, and subsequently many would be gunned down or run over by personnel carriers and tanks rolling through the city.
Boone said he served with the Army's 99th Field Artillery Battalion. When he first deployed, he figured he’d be back home sooner rather than later after arriving in France a few weeks after the D-Day invasion. The celebratory imagery he saw in France would quickly change as his unit passed through and made its way into Belgium.
“I thought, 'Well, the war is going to be over by Christmas and get to go home,' but it didn't work out that way,” Boone said. “Germans had a different idea.”
Even before he became an adult, Boone was ready to serve his country, and he said he knew his number would eventually come up.
“I fully expected to part of that cause I owed something to my country and the people who would be serving,” Boone said. “I didn't wait until I was 18, I went ahead and registered for the draft.”
He was a musician, having been given a trumpet by his father as a child. He quickly picked it up and has continued to play through his years. He is 97 years old as of the date of this story.
He’s performed in his World War II uniform at a variety of events ranging from military parades to major league baseball games.
“It just gives us a chance to honor those who didn't get to come back," Boone said. "People say, 'well how come you enjoy playing soldier years after it's over?' I said, 'we're not playing solider, we're here because of some that couldn't be here, because of their loss of life -- their injury.'"
He plays a variety of service branch songs as well as "Taps," and the national anthem. Each note is another chance for him to honor those who lost their lives fighting for our country.
He’s been a regular at the Bolder Boulder 10K in Colorado, playing the "Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the start. This year they honored him ahead of the race.