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Knott County WWII vet talks experience in war

PINE TOP, Ky (WYMT) - On Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For Burl Bowen, who served in the Philippines during World War II, he considers himself one of the lucky ones because he got to come home after the war ended.

"I could have got out of going if I wanted to but I wanted to serve my country. I am glad I did it. If I had it to do over, I would do exactly what I done," said Bowen.

When asked to describe his time overseas, Bowen said it is complicated.

"The feeling you have is hard to explain what it is, how you really felt. You did not want to die," said Bowen.

Bowen said combat is something few people will ever truly understand.

"It had been about two or three days that I had not had any sleep. I laid down and went to sleep right on the ground on the concrete. Them mountains up there are just like the coal fields are here. There is a layer of coal here and a layer higher up. I was up on top of that and the Japanese, I was sleeping right on top of them and did not know it," said Bowen.

He said he saw several comrades lose their lives while in battle.

"I could see our guys getting shot. You prayed that you would survive of course and my prayers was answered it looks like," said Bowen.

Bowen said one of the toughest moments for him came when the war ended.

"Oh lord, it was a terrible thing getting home. I had no idea I was in that kind of condition but I was. I was easily tipped off, dangerous, i guess you could say," said Bowen.

He added the emotional scars took the longest to heal.

"It was a good six months before I got back to loving everybody like I should. I had already made the good Lord a promise that I would get straightened out when I got home if he saved me. Evidently he did," said Bowen.

Bowen was just 23-years-old when he was drafted in World War II. In March, he will celebrate his 95th birthday.


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