LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - UPDATE: KCBD has just learned that Marcus Braziel passed away Wednesday evening, just hours before our broadcast. Please join us in paying tribute to this heroic man.
Marcus "Baylor" Braziel, 95, volunteered for the Army Air Corps in the midst of World War II.
He was deployed to the Aleutian Islands for a year as a heavy equipment operator.
His health made it difficult for Braziel to share his own story, but his granddaughters explain why they believe he is a Hometown Hero.
"The stories that he tells, his service to his country, every time I see an American flag, that's who I think of," said Amy Penn.
"He loved his country, he was so proud of his service," said Tracy Penn.
Amy and Tracy think their grandfather, whom they called "Pa," is the epitome of a Hometown Hero.
"When the planes would be flying in from one of their maneuvers, they would toggle the wings if there was a killed soldier on board. He was responsible for helping unload the plane," Tracy said.
Tracy and Amy said they remember the vivid stories he would tell about his time in the service, including when he witnessed the very moment that ended the war.
"He witnessed the first atomic bomb drop and didn't realize what it was. When the second bomb dropped, he knew what it was," Tracy said. "He actually gassed up the plane that was scheduled to drop the third bomb," she said.
But they say their "Pa" was more than a hero on the battlefield.
"He's amazing. He's full of stories. He never met a stranger. He's got a nickname for everybody he meets and he is very, very dedicated to his country," Amy said.
That's why they believe their grandfather is a Hometown Hero.
"Even right at the end, where he finally got to where he was hurting so bad, what he said was, 'I'm 95-years-old, I've served my country, I've lived a great life and I'm ready to go,'" she said.