Veterans Give Geneva Students Lesson in World War II History

By Murray, Gretchen | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

Veterans Give Geneva Students Lesson in World War II History


Murray, Gretchen, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Gretchen Murray Daily Herald Staff Writer

The generation gap narrowed a bit on Monday when Geneva fourth-graders received a memorable history lesson from four World War II veterans.

About 200 fourth-graders from Coultrap and Harrison Street elementary schools participated in a Geneva Public Library forum that showed students the importance of holidays such as Memorial Day.

Veterans John Wilson of Batavia and Jerry Perrone, Bob Rock and Merritt King of Geneva took turns answering sometimes pointed questions. The veterans often responded with blunt answers about their battles, fears and flashbacks.

"We were all so young, we just did what we were told," said Perrone, a Marine artillery gunner and platoon sergeant stationed in the South Pacific. "We somehow got kind of hardened to death."

Veterans described the sights of war, such as the bloody beaches of Normandy and the heated naval battles in the Philippines.

Those images are still with them.

"Going back 50 years, I still think about it today," said King, who served in the European Theater. "I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing."

Wilson said most war memories passed "except for the most vivid ones you still dream about."

When asked how the war got started, John Wilson, 77, an Army infantry platoon leader who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, talked about Adolph Hitler. …

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