95 year-old Navy veteran reflects on being apart of WWII, life during the pandemic

Veterans Voices

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Sitting on his front porch with his daughter, William Smith has more memories to reflect on than he every imagined.

While William Smith was born near Tyrone 95 years ago, he spent most of his life at this home on Bell Avenue in Altoona, and his parents moved to the house next door in 1931.

He joined the Navy in 1942, when he was 17.

“I joined the Navy and they sent me to boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland,” said William Smith, WWII Veteran of Altoona.

World War II was underway. Smith was stationed on board the USS Solar, a ship that would escort other ships to keep them safe.

He can’t see so well anymore. But a magnifying machine brings those photos back to life.

The heaviest action smith saw in World War II, was escorting ships at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

“When you had to go through the straights of Gibraltar, the submarines were pretty bad. You couldn’t get through there without losing somebody,” Smith added.

Smith says he felt lucky to survive the war. At the end of the war, he was in Boston.

“We celebrated, we felt we won, we felt we did our part,” Smith said.

70 years flew by with family, and a career in the railroad and PPG Industries in Tipton.

He says now at 95 it can be tough to keep up with things like Facebook and Zoom.

“The world has changed so much, technology has changed so much, maybe I’m 50 years behind,” said Smith.

COVID-19 restrictions been tough for Smith.

“It’s tough, you get lonely sometimes.”

He misses seeing his friends each month for dances and meals, in groups like the golden nuggets and horseshoe seniors.

“I’d like to say hello to all my friends, nuggets and seniors. Maybe they’ll see this and give me a buzz,” Smith continued.

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