They're called members of "The Greatest Generation."

Wednesday, a 93 year old World War II veteran who lives in South Dakota relived some special memories here in Mobile.

He visited the USS Alabama, bringing back memories of a battleship he served on in the Pacific theater.

Ronald Vogel lived a life that many people just read about in history books.

And he was a witness to one of the most moving moments in American military history.

Vogel said, "I was at Mindanao, I was at Okinawa, I was at Iwo Jima."

Ronald Vogel joined the Navy when he was in his late teens.

He was a Seaman First Class aboard the USS West Virginia....and a literal witness to history.

Vogel said, "Because I was a quartermaster and I spent my tour up on the bridge, I had a first hand view of everything that we did, whether it was bombarding or whatever it was."

Vogel said he especially wanted to see the bridge aboard the USS Alabama.

He says he tried to put aside many of his memories of what he saw in battle until recently.

Vogel said, "Some of it was good, some of it was so bad, you know, because it was the last stand for the Japanese, you know, and what you saw wasn't always that good."

But one sight he won't forget:  a famous moment during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

He said, "I saw the flag being raised."

When asked if he didn't realize how historical that event might be, Vogel said, "No, you don't, but it's amazing when you think about it seeing those guys.  I was using binoculars, of course, but you could see them raise the flag at Iwo."

And Vogel has thoughts on how the United States has changed since that time.

He said, "I will say one thing about World War II.  The country became one. Today, it has not been one since the war was over.  I mean, politics has gotten to be so terrible, you know, and even the idea, the President is still the President, and you have to honor him, whether you agree or disagree.  He is still our President.  And we forget that we are so lucky to even have the type of life we do.  That's we fought for."

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

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