Veteran Salute: Serving in WWII was never an option, it was the thing to do

Veteran Salute

Serving in World War II built lifelong relationships for many of the service men and women.  

It was seen as a popular war and also a war that the U.S. won.  

Our Veteran Salute goes to a soldier who still regularly keeps in touch with his friends who also served.

Warren Lewis was a Second Lieutenant after completing officer candidate school and graduating from Wichita University. 

He was 21 when enlisted in 1943, and after training, he would head overseas where he says a series of different life experiences began.

“I had never taken a bath out of a helmet before,” laughed Warren. “That’s different.”

Warren says more so than his military experiences, it was the life experiences during his time overseas he remembers most.

“Somebody from Kansas on the ocean had never seen any body of water before, maybe Cheney Lake and it was just vast ocean. That was an experience,” remembers Warren.

Warren says he wasn’t scared to head overseas he was apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect.

Assigned to the 104th infantry division, Warren’s unit would head to Europe and return as a unit committing to serve the duration of the war plus six months.  

He would head from France to Belgium, then into Holland where he would experience combat.

“You can talk to a thousand veterans, and you’ll never understand the feeling and experience you go through,” reflects Warren.

While crossing the Mark River in Holland, a rifle wound earned Warren his first purple heart.

“At that crossing every officer in my company was either killed or wounded.”

Warren would evacuate back to England and later rejoin his unit in Germany and earn a second purple heart after getting injured by a shell fragment.

“We called them back in those days a German marksmanship medal,” says Warren.

He served overseas until 1945 when he would return home to Kansas.

His platoon met every year after the war, and today he still calls the remaining survivors one of his fellow soldiers as well as the wife of a comrade who’s since passed away.

“The fact that I was in combat doesn’t put me any better than the guy who did dishes, the sacrifice was still there,” says Warren.

Looking back on his time serving his country, Warren says it was never an option.

“Well, it was the thing to do, I mean gee whiz. What option did we have? It wasn’t a question of if I want to. It was the thing to do.”

After the war, Warren taught history in Wellington, then later went into counseling and was a counselor at Brooks Junior High for 20 some years.  

He and his wife still live here in Wichita and this November will celebrate 75 years of marriage.  

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