WWII veteran inspires others with his fighting spirit
In January of 1943, Louisiana native Staward Simon was surveying and digging channels for the United States Engineering Department on the Mississippi River when he saw the German forces sink a ship right in front of him.
He was 18 years old at the time and signed up for the U.S. Navy the very next day to help defend his country as part of America’s first line of defense for World War II.
As a “plankowner,” or a crew member, of the U.S.S. New Jersey, Simon assisted with a variety of responsibilities and was proud to serve in whatever capacity he could on the ship.
“I wasn’t in it for a raise,” said Simon. “I was there to fight a war.”
He served with his crew members from the start of WWII on Jan. 29, 1944, until the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
When the war was over, Simon returned home to Louisiana and purchased a general store and 167 acres where he grew cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet potatoes for distribution. Post-service, he practiced one of the lessons he learned through his experience in the U.S. Navy.
“It pays to be patient,” said Simon.
Recently, the 92-year-old received inpatient rehabilitation services for a hip fracture at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Alexandria, and inspired many with that same patience, his fighting spirit and a positive attitude.
In response to being asked if he would fight for our country today, he stated, “If I was young, I’d do it all over again. That’s how much I love my country.”