KCBD is honoring World War II veteran Phil Crenshaw as this week's "Hometown Hero". In 1943, Phil enlisted in the Army. He was 21 years old, and he was sent to Okinawa, Japan that same year.
Phil took us on a trip down memory lane, opening up a tattered and faded photo album his mother made him 70 years ago. He flipped through the fragile pages to the end of the worn album where his World War II story begins.
He pointed out a black and white photo dated August 19, 1945.
"The man standing up is the Chaplain, and here are some of the Japanese prisoners of war. On the right hand side is where I am playing the little pump organ that unfolded," Phil said.
Originally sent overseas in the Army signal corps, Phil was transferred and became Chaplain Wuemberger's assistant.
"He was so down to earth and friendly. Everyone all over that island wanted to come see this chaplain, my chaplain," he said. "He was very energetic and had as many as eight services on Sunday - ministering to the troops in the Army, Navy, Marines - and even the POWs."
Phil and his chaplain helped restore faith and morale to the soldiers during the trying times of battle. Missing home and their loved ones, Phil helped fill the void and loneliness the soldiers were struggling with.
He brought comfort to the WWII heroes who lie broken and battered in the hospital tents, many on their last breath.
"We visited with the field hospitals where the wounded were in critical condition. This was a time when there were a lot of casualties and suffering. The chaplain was in constant calling everywhere," Phil said.
There's no telling how many lives Phil touched as he helped these soldiers find the strength to go on. His service ended in 1946, but Phil continues to remind his friends and family of those men he met – men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Each year Phil sends out a "Memorial Day Salute", telling those he cares about of the men who made our land the home of the free.
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