ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene World War II Veteran turned 95 years old on Veterans Day, and his family said he is one of the few left in this area.
On Saturday, Dwight Painter celebrated his 95th birthday. The occasion marked not only another year of his life but also his service to the country.
“I just think it’s incredibly magical that he’s 95. He’s a Veteran. It’s on Veterans Day,” his adopted daughter, Trae Booth, explained.
Dwight was in basic training at 17 years old in 1945, just as World War II was ending, but Dwight’s son David shared that Veteran Affairs still considers him a World War II Veteran.
In recent years, Dwight’s friends who served with him have passed away, and David said he’s one of the few left to tell his stories. He was able to tell KTAB/KRBC almost all he could remember.
“There were 3,000 on the ship, and we went to Korea and docked there, and 2,700 stayed there, and I was one of the 300 that came back to Japan,” Dwight recalled.
He served 15 months and ten days. After his time in the army, Dwight’s life focus was his wife and two adopted children.
“I don’t remember him telling me so many stories about that, but I do remember, as I developed and got older, when he did share with me, how proud I was that he did serve, and that meant a lot to me,” said Booth.
Even though he grew up in Forsan, Texas, his job moved his family to Abilene. After his wife passed away, he remarried a woman he met in the Key City named Daw.
When asked what Dwight’s favorite memory was, he replied, “Well, probably when I found Daw and married her.”
Booth gives Daw the credit for Dwight still being here today, sharing that she saved his life after he fell and broke his femur.
“We didn’t think he would pull out of it. We really didn’t,” said Booth. “She completely whipped him into shape, making him do his exercises.”
They can now celebrate his good health on his birthday and reflect on his time in Japan, which he remembers fondly as ‘a great memory.’
KTAB/KRBC also spoke with the local Veteran Affairs office, and the staff said World War II Veterans would be in their 90s at this point, and many of them have already passed.