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A Soldier's Survival Story Times Three
CENTERVILLE -- We met World War II veteran Luther J. Phillips, 91, at Stubbs Park in Centerville while he was taking a look at his own commemorative brick that mentions his Purple Heart award.
The award is given to veterans who have been wounded or killed during service. In Phillips' case, you could argue he deserves three different Purple Hearts.
"I got shot through in my arm," he said. "Just barely missed the elbow. They didn't know it went all the way through. I was bleeding out the back end."
Phillips says he almost bled to death.
"They took me down to the river and waited to get a boat across to get me back to the hospital and I got operated on the next morning," he said.
And that was just his first injury while in Italy. Six months later he got shot in the hip while in a shootout.
"I started crawling. I crawled right up a ditch and got out of there. I bled quite a bit before I got to the hospital," he said.
But the war wasn't over. Six months after recovering from that injury, he sat down for what he thought would be quiet dinner.
"Got a nice piece of chicken breast, just took one big bite out of that and about that time an artillery shell came in and blew my leg half off and knocked out 11 of us," he said. "Sixty percent of my muscle is out of there. They were supposed to amputate it and the doctor that did it said 'if you want I can get you a good leg', and I said 'anything but that.'"
This tough guy made it through to the end.
"I went in November 6, 1942, I got out July 3, 1945, and never went home one day from the day I went into service until the day I got out.
He says he's been able to live a normal life, never suffering from post-traumatic stress, even though he spent most of his time in the front lines.
"That's how you end up being shot, being out in the front a lot," his son John said.
"The country needed it, so somebody had to do it, so I try to do my part," said Luther.
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