RICHMOND, Va. -- World War II veteran Jack Myers has more zest for life than most people half his age.
“Your attitude is so important in life, you know,” Myers said.
For Myers, turning the pages of the past is more than a stroll down memory lane. The Marylander’s zest for life is unsurpassed whether skydiving on his birthday or belting out songs before a baseball game.
“To get together now and the fun we’re having with pictures,” Myers said. “I’m so thankful that I have the memory and good health at 96.”
But one of Myers' biggest joys is making memories with his buddies: friendships forged nearly 80 years ago.
Myers' 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion helped liberate Europe from the clutches of Hitler.
“It's hard for me to tell you about the joy and sadness I have all at the same time,” Myers said. “I just thank my God that I was able to get through it.”
Following the war, 40 to 50 of the veterans with the 692nd would gather annually.
“It is one of the top activities in my life really,” Myers said. “I remember each and everyone one of these, but it's hard for me to remember each name."
And this year the unit is meeting in Richmond.
Mary Jo Myers said the reunions remain her husband’s heart and soul.
“I knew. I knew how important the 692nd is to this man and his military life,” Mary Jo Myers said.
One glaring fact is not lost on Myers: this year he is the only veteran left.
“We don’t have Ray with us anymore and Bob is in a nursing home,” Myers explained.
“It's very sad because you hate to lose them, but that is life and we accept it and we live on with the memories of how they were,” Myers said.
Myers knows time is the veteran’s biggest foe.
“This reunion is part of a way to honor and remember the guys who are not here anymore. Yeah, it' important to me.”
Myers said the lyrics to his favorite song are a fitting tribute to the brave warriors who have gone before him.
“Day by day I’m falling more in love with you. There isn’t any end to my devotion. It's deeper than any ocean. I’m yours alone, and I’m in love to stay. As we go through the years day by day,” Myers said.
Myers does not know how many reunions he has left, but he feels it's his duty to keep them going as the last soldier standing.
In fact, the couple are already making plans for the 49th annual reunion next June in Michigan when he will be 97 years old.
In full disclosure, Jack Myers, served with Greg McQuade's late-grandfather, Capt. William McQuade, in the 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion.
"I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, so Jack is serving as my surrogate grandfather," McQuade said.
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