Skip to content

They Are Proud They Served, We Are Proud They Did

Henderson County’s Issac Thomas Whitwell is a World War II veteran after joining the Navy a the age of 17 years old.
Photo Submitted / Lexington Progress

Article by Steve Corlew-

Henderson Countians will be honoring our veterans this upcoming weekend, and for those who have served it will be a special day.

It began as a day to remember the end of the “war to end all wars,” World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the armistice was signed signaling the end of the fighting. Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1971 and with the exception of a few years between 1968 and 1978, it has been celebrated on November 11th.

Henderson County’s Tom Whitwell is a World War II veteran who is proud to have served. At age 17 he joined the Navy in Dyer, Tennessee.

“You saw the things that happened to other people, and what it did to other countries,” Whitwell observed. “And just being a little piece of settling all that, even without firing that big gun and sinking a ship, makes you feel like you helped somebody.”

“The older you get the more you feel it,” Whitwell said. “You appreciate what is done for people.”

“Then you reach back there and say ‘Thank you Lord I wasn’t wounded,’” Whitwell added while reminiscing about friends that were wounded during the war.

“I had friends comeback home without their legs. They lived without legs, but it was hard,” Whitwell said. “It is a tough place out there,” he added talking about the war.

Born on December 7th, Whitwell will celebrate his 96th birthday this year. Issac Thomas Whitwell joined the Navy on July 10, 1943.

Whitwell was a gunner on a Liberty ship during the war serving in the Atlantic. He served as a Gunner First Class.

He chose the Navy because of the stories his father told him about serving in the infantry during World War I.

“He said that (the infantry) wasn’t any place for him. His feet froze in France, and when I heard that tale, I did not want a place where I had to sleep on the ground,” Whitwell said.

In order to join at 17, Whitwell had to have his parents sign. A few days after he joined, he was…

For complete coverage, see the November 9th edition of The Lexington Progress.

Subscribe Today!

Leave a Comment