US Marine veteran Carl Spurlin Dekel who served in WWII celebrated his 100th birthday this week. Surrounded by his friends and family, Dekel toasted his triple-digit age while seated in a golf cart with a beer in his hand. Along with his pride for his uniform, though, the veteran shared a sad realization.
“People don’t realize what they have,” Dekel shared with Fox13. “The things we did and the things we fought for and the boys that died for it, it’s all gone down the drain.”
Dekel joined the USMC in 1940 and quickly deployed to Guantanamo’s Naval base where he joined a machine gun company. During his career, Dekel earned a Silver Star, his “pride and joy,” and believes that his service was the most important accomplishment of his life. Even still, Dekel mourns the loss of the nation he once knew that, to him, is quickly slipping away.
“We haven’t got the country we had when I was raised, not at all,” he said. “Nobody will have the fun I had. Nobody will have the opportunity I had. It’s just not the same and that’s not what our boys, that’s not what they died for.”
Despite the change that the WWII veteran has seen in his nation, he still remembers the brothers in arms beside him who kept him going through the toughest and most rewarding part of his life. He chuckled as he recalled the story in which he and his fellow Marines stole the engineer’s generator from a nearby bridge and hid it in a foxhole.
“It was an honor to serve my country,” Dekel said. “If I had to do it again at the same age, I would do it. I guarantee you.”
Nation Mourns Loss of 98-Year-Old WWII Medal of Honor Veteran
The day Dekel celebrated his landmark birthday was the same day our country lost another hero and Marine, 98-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams. Previously, Williams had received his Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman for his actions during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Understandably, the remaining 63 Medal of Honor recipients wanted the nation to hear the WWII veteran’s story. So, they sang his praises in an official statement.
“Friends and family of Woody Williams knew him as a West Virginia farmer’s son and the youngest of 11 children who dutifully supported his family after his father died,” they wrote in a statement through the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “Fellow Marines knew him as the corporal who volunteered for a mission on Iwo Jima to clear a lane through enemy pillboxes that were destroying American tanks.”
“Veterans in West Virginia knew him as their advocate through his work as a Veterans Service Representative. Gold Star families knew Woody through his work raising money for scholarships and other programs through the Woody Williams Foundation,” they continued. “We, his fellow Medal of Honor Recipients, knew him as our friend and one of our heroes. We will miss him greatly.”