World War II veterans share friendship of a lifetime in Denver City

World War II veterans share friendship of a lifetime in Denver City
Giles Lee (Source: KCBD Video)
Giles Lee (Source: KCBD Video)
Lt. Warren "Paul" New (Source: KCBD Video)
Lt. Warren "Paul" New (Source: KCBD Video)

DENVER CITY, TX (KCBD) - They say everybody has a story to tell. Giles Lee has more than one.

But we didn't know that until we went to Shinnery Oaks, a nursing home in Denver City.

That's where we learned fame comes with a sense of humor.

Giles was married to Joan Anderson for 70 years. That alone could be a sweet story about Giles Lee, but there's more.

At 94, he still remembers all the close calls from his rodeo days. Named to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hobbs, New Mexico, he did it all.

He says, "The one that hurt me most of all was the bull riding."

Giles says he had a lot of broken bones, but he still can't believe he crawled out of one bad accident.

"In Wyoming, I had a horse fall with me and roll over the top of me."

Lucky for him, a muddy arena softened the blow. He was injured, but at least alive.

I asked if he ever took his injuries to the hospital.

He said "No, I talked them out of that."

That's when Giles talked me out of this rodeo story and into another one.

He said, "I'm not that famous, but I want to bring attention to my friend."

Giles is a veteran and his best friend at Shinnery Oaks is another veteran who also served during world war II.

"I admire him because he was in combat. I wasn't in combat. He was a pilot and got in his 30 missions bombing Germany in the Air Force."

Giles was a mechanic who worked on the ground crew.

Of course, we all know pilots couldn't do their job in the sky without servicemen like Giles on the ground to keep the oil checked, the fuel filled and the bombs loaded.

But instead of getting any glory, Giles was eager for me to meet his friend, Lt. Warren "Paul" New.

So we rolled back inside, looking for the real story at Shinnery Oaks.

And when these two found each other in the lobby, It was obvious there was a connection.

Paul looked up at Giles and said, "Hey captain, how are you sir?"

Giles smiled and said, "Hey Paul. I'm not a captain, I'm a staff sergeant."

That was the first of many times Paul affectionately called Giles, 'Captain', and Giles hurried to correct him.

The wheels of time rolled away as Giles traded his cowboy hat for his World War II cap, the same thing Paul was wearing. The B-29 mechanic in the Pacific and the B-17 pilot in the Atlantic had stories to share, both with keen memories.

Paul drifted back into a story that he acted out with his hands flying as he recalled 30 missions dropping bombs over Germany.

"We would take off and go up in the clouds and couldn't see a thing for 30 minutes. Ten men on the crew and I was the pilot."

I asked, "So, you are a war hero?" He laughed and said, "No, i just survived."

What a beautiful afternoon I spent with these two. I was watching a lifelong friendship that began in their 90s.

They would joke about who's older, tease about their military titles, and laugh about who will be more famous when this story airs.

And as they ended their visit, Paul told Giles, "Give me a salute."

It was a simple gesture between two veterans, and famous friends.

As we left, I heard Lt. Paul New say, "You're alright, Captain."

Giles answered, "I wasn't nothing but a staff sergeant."

And they laughed.

I went to Shinnery Oaks looking for a story.

I left with an image I'll never forget. With matching caps and matching wheelchairs side by side, this forever friendship formed, 72 years after service to the flag.

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