WWII Veteran celebrates 95th birthday with a trip down memory lane

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HASTINGS, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – If you didn’t already know, you’d never guess Don Krise turned 95 on May 7th.

Don, a WWII veteran originally had different plans than swinging on his daughter’s front porch in Hastings.

He pictured something more like eating steak, and maybe even getting on the back of a horse.

This year, COVID-19 restrictions forced him to stay home, and his family came to help him celebrate by taking a trip down memory lane.

The oldest of 14, Don has lived a long and fulfilling life.

Most of the things we take for granted weren’t around, or were brand new in Don’s time.

He first got electricity in grade school and was one of the first in his area to be able to attend high school

“Before that, all the people that lived in the country never went to high school because they had to walk four to five miles,” detailed Kris. “The first year I went to high school is when the school busses started running.

High school graduation was the biggest turning point in Don’s life when he and his classmates travelled to Altoona to enlist in the military for WWII.

He was then stationed in the South Pacific in 1943, to build telephone lines for soldiers who were fighting the Japanese.

“So in the daytime, we’d be down there and there’d be fighting going on and that’s as close as I ever come to getting killed was a piece of an airplane during the fight fell off and it landed about ten feet beside me,” described Kris.

When don came back to the states he settled down, got married and had four children of his own

Out of the 16 million soldiers who fought in WWII, only around 300,000 still survive, less than 10%.

Don represents a generation that knew the world as a completely different place, watching it become what it is today.

At 95 don still has a bit of adventure left in him.

Maybe next year he’ll get to ride that horse.

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