Honoring local heroes on Veterans Day

 Since 1776, 48 million Americans have served in the armed forces. Today is the day we honor all of them. (Click here for a gallery of YOUR photos of veterans.)

 Some of us learned about World War I and II, the Vietnam War and maybe even Desert Storm from the history books. The real stories of bravery and sacrifice can really only be taught by the ones who served on the front lines themselves..

At the young age of 17, Edward Earl Gidcumb dedicated his life to this country. Gidcumb, now an 89-year-old World War II veteran, can still recall some vivid memories of his time on the U.S.S. Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea.

“The ship went down in 15 minutes. 15 minutes and there were 300 that went down with it and 800 that went into the water,” Gidcumb says. “All 317 of those died from wounds, starvation and hallucinations.”

He says those memories have stuck with him his entire life.

“You think you are going to live forever and you don’t really think about losing your life, at least I didn’t,” Gidcumb says. “I’m sure a lot of them wondered if they were going to get through it, especially the ones that landed on the beaches, but I feel that the Lord blesses me in many ways and that was one of them. He brought me back home.”

At 29 years old, Robert Doughty’s life was changed forever.

“You always accept the fact that you can be wounded or you could be killed in combat, but you don’t think about the possibility of losing a limb or multiple limbs,” Doughty says.

After spending 12 years on active duty, Doughty, now 39 years old, looks back with no regrets.

“I was traumatically injured in Iraq in 2004 and I lost my right leg above the knee and my left leg below the knee and my now-7-year-old son is named after the teammate that saved my life in Iraq,” Doughty says.

Today is the day we should give back to those who have already given so much.

Doughty says, “I would just hope most people could appreciate those situations that some of our military veterans were and are in and when they get the opportunity to acknowledge it.”

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