MACON, Ga. — A 92-year-old veteran reflects on his time in the U.S. Navy and how he remembers his friends he lost ahead of this upcoming Memorial Day.
Dan Gatlyn was born during America's Great Depression.
"There was nothing. I remember when I was a kid, we didn't have anything, nothing. I remember when I didn't have any shoes," Gatlyn said.
At 18 years old, he joined the Navy.
"I was a victim of circumstance. I joined to have a job," Gatlyn said.
Throughout his 20 years of service in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, and Cuban Missile Crisis, he lost several friends.
"We lost pilots, a lot of them in the squadron," Gatlyn said.
Gatlyn says he lost one friend in a flying accident, and another who got caught in a fire on their hangar deck.
"It was 30 days before they got him back to Milledgeville, and I had to take his wife down to the funeral home and listen to her words, and she looked at him and said, 'That's not him.' You want to issue as much comfort as possible, but watching her face and watching those two kids [was hard]," Gatlyn said.
58,000 men and women died in Vietnam alone.
"69 percent of those who died were under 22 years of age. That's terrible. That's the story. All wars take our young people," Gatlyn said.
It's those young people Gatlyn wants us to remember.
Gatlyn plans on attending a "Taps" ceremony on Houston Road in their honor. It's at Sardis-Heard Funeral Home and Crematorium on May 28th at 11 a.m.
Gatlyn is also a pastor, missionary, and journalist. His wife passed away in 2013. They were married for 68 years.