WWII Veteran: 'I'd do it again' - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

WWII Veteran: 'I'd do it again'

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Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press. Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press.

EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) -- A Chattanooga veteran is being honored for his service during World War II. Nearly 70 years after invading the beaches of Normandy, he is being recognized as a hero.

Murel Winans, 86, truly represents 'The Greatest Generation.'

He risked his life trying to save his comrades on the beaches of France in World War II. Now the France and the U.S. are thanking him for his service.

On June 17, 1942, barely 17-years-old, Murel Winans enlisted in the United States Navy.

"I was just a little, young kid from the hills of West Virginia," he says. "I weighed 119 pounds."

He joined the ranks, serving in the Hospital Corp.

"Within the first six months, you were, you were men," says Winans.

Two years later on June 6, on his 19th birthday, D-Day.

U.S. forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. As a part of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion, he was armed with medication and bandages.

"We would ride in a Jeep up and down the beach to find anybody that was wounded or anything," he says. "We'd treat them right there."

In the midst of warfare, he says he never thought twice about what he was doing.

"I was just helping others," he says. "I mean, that was my job. That's what I did. That's what I like to do."

Nearly 70 years later, France is honoring Winans with the Legion of Honor Award. It is the highest military honor the country gives for service to the French Republic.

He was presented with the medal at a ceremony in Nashville, Thursday.

Winans says he is just as proud now as the day he enlisted.

"What you really did feel like you were doing the right thing," Winans says. "And what you wanted to do."

His years of naval service took him all over the U.S. and the world. He also served in the Korean War.

"You don't want to spend a winter in Korea," Winans says, laughing. "I'll guarantee you, you don't want to do it cause you'll freeze your buns off."

It is humorous advice from a man who has seen what the fight for freedom really is.

"I fell like I've done my service, I feel like it," Winans says. "And of course if I had to do it again, I'd do it again."

Out of the 390 men in his unit, nearly 130 lost their lives.

Winans says being in the service was part of his blood. He is one of 10 siblings. Five of them were serving in World War II at the same time.

Winans always maintained an interest in medical services, going on to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

He lives in East Ridge with his wife of 64 years.

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