WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — In Wethersfield, one WWII veteran is being honored by neighbors and state lawmakers this Veterans Day.
John Sword is a great-grandfather of six and just last month he turned 95. His birthday and the WWII veteran’s 32 years of service to his country are being recognized in a special way by his friends and neighbors.
“Shows a level valor, bravery, and reverence that serves as an inspiration to us all,” said neighbor, Lorraine Russo, who read from the Certificate of Accomplishment honoring Sword from U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. His friends presented the certificate to him appropriately on Wednesday, Veterans Day.
“He always has a story and some wisdom to share,” said Russo.
They’ve actually been honoring him with special dinners since his birthday.
“Humbling humbling. Just…You got me crying,” said Sword.
Sword, who lost his wife Midge of 74 years in April, was a Radarman on the USS Houston when it was hit by a torpedo on October 14, 1944. He was told to jump overboard while the fighting continued.
“Well, it knocked out the engineering spaces so we were dead in the water. And those of us who wore extra gear we were told to abandon ship so we went over the side…There was a typhoon coming up so it was rough seas,” said Sword.
After 18 hours in the water, he was rescued by the USS Grayson, which became his son’s middle name.
“USS Grayson, a destroyer, hull number 435, and I’ll never forget that number as long as I live,” said Sword as he wiped away a tear.
Having him and other veterans tell their stories keeps history alive and enlightens those who hear the stories.
In fact, during a recent medical appointment, Sword was speaking with the receptionist who had scheduled his next appointment for Dec. 7th. He realized the girl did not know the significance of that day. He, of course, enlightened her that it was the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii 1941.
His neighbors are compiling mementos of the recent events and memories in a book for him.
“Not just a life well-lived, but also service recognized,” said Russo.