Nebraska Navy veteran reflects being in WWII

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 7:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - 95-year-old Gilbert Hill is leading a very full life.

He attended Nebraska Wesleyan, where he was a three-sport athlete. Hill went on to coach at two different high schools, get married, and have children.

Gilbert and his wife Nancy still like to go dancing but before all of that Hill lived another life as a member of the United States Navy during WWII.

Gilbert Hill was 18 years old when he signed up to join the Navy.

“They said you’re still in high school, go back and finish, and then we’ll take you the day after you graduate which they did, they sent me from Omaha on a train to Farragut, Idaho,” said Hill.

Gilbert spent nine months in basic training and he would end up in the Philippines aboard the Manderson Victory, Gilbert was a clerk but everyone on the ship had to perform hazardous duty.

“I didn’t know at the time but when I got on it they said you know what our cargo is, I said I have no idea and they said 9,000 tons of ammo. That would have been a big firecracker.”

“You know you’re 18 and you’re just doing what you’re told, didn’t bother me. Fortunately, the enemy didn’t know what we were carrying so our trouble was minimum, our main trouble was getting alongside the battleships and the cruisers and unloading all the ammo.”

Gilbert says they were in the Pacific when the war was raging on having no idea of the importance of the moment.

“I only realized I was where I was supposed to be and I was a part of something big but I didn’t realize at all how big.”

At that moment, those years were big, many refer to Gilbert and his buddies as part of the greatest generation.

“Well because we were the first generation that went to two wars, both world wars OK, World War I and World War II and we became the greatest generation as far as other people were concerned because it was our job to save the world.”

Gilbert’s wife Nancy is proud of her husband and everyone that put on the uniform in WWII.

“Well they were very important to this country and to our salvation and to our future you know they paved the way,” said Nancy.

Gilbert says he used to stay in touch with some of his buddies from the war but not so much anymore.

“Very few of them are still alive, because you know I’m 95 going to be 96.”

That’s why it’s important for us to remember and honor Gilbert and everyone else that is part of our greatest generation.

Gilbert Hill grew up in Chadron, Nebraska.

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