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5 local veterans whose amazing stories of war have inspired us

Last week, William “Jimmy” Phillips was presented with four service medals 72 years after he was first scheduled to receive them in a ceremony at the Woodlands of Middletown.

It was the latest in a series of stories about inspiring veterans from our coverage area.

Here’s a sampling of five such stories that have introduced us to members of our community who served and have wonderful stories to tell.

World War II veteran William “Jimmy” Phillips gives a fist pump after receiving his long awaited war medals during a ceremony Thursday, Feb. 22 at Woodlands of Middletown Assisted Living facility. Phillips, who turns 92 next month, has waited nearly 70 years since his discharge to receive his medals. He was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, Europe-Africa Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal during the ceremony. Jerry Ferris and Randy Howson with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 31 presented the medals. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

William “Jimmy” Phillips

In November 1946, PFC William “Jimmy” Phillips was discharged from an 11-month stint in the U.S. Army after World War II.

Phillips, 20 at the time, had a choice — stay at Fort Dix, N.J. where he was being separated and receive his service medals or catch a train back to Middletown and re-start his life.

He opted to go home.

That decision meant Phillips, 91, never received his medals until last week, nearly 72 years later.

READ MORE: Middletown veteran receives his WWII medals 72 years later

World War II veteran Russ Carr speaks to students about his military experience at Hamilton Freshman School Wednesday, Feb. 21 in Hamilton. Carr served in the Army in the 125th Mechanized Calvary Reconnaissance Troop as an armored car driver. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

Russ Carr

On July 1, 1944, Carr landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France with the 125th Mechanized Calvary as D-Day was underway. He drove on to the beach in his armored car with water up to his chest.

More than 80 Modern World History students at the Hamilton Freshman School gathered to hear stories from the 99-year-old Carr last week about his service to the country that included participation in the Battle of the Bulge and the Liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Carr captivated his audience with details about his experiences and the toll that war takes on humanity.

READ MORE: He lived through hell. At 99, he shared his stories with an applauding high school audience.

Bill Davidson, then 20, enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 9, 1942. After several months of training, he was assigned to the 2nd Air Force, and in April, 1943 found himself in England, ready to fly B-17 bombing missions over Germany. (Staff Writer)

Bill Davidson

Davidson completed 18 missions before his aircraft took on damaging fire during the 2nd Schweinfurt raid of Oct. 14, 1943.

He parachuted out of the burning craft and spent the final 19 months of the war as a prisoner of the German forces in Stalag Luft III. The camp was well known for “The Great Escape,” which inspired the popular World War II movie of the same name.

After the war, Davidson settled in Middletown, opened Davidson Photo Shop and started a family that includes six children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

READ MORE: This Purple Heart-awarded American hero was a POW in Poland before thriving in Middletown

Vietnam Veteran Harold Andrews

Harold Andrews II

Harold Andrews II grew up in Hamilton and served his country in Vietnam with honor. So much so, that he was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service. How he wound up in the war and what he saw and faced on a daily basis is something that could easily be written for the big screen. 

In November 2017, he sat comfortably in a living room chair of his Liberty Twp. home, where he now lives with his wife of 45 years, Isophene, and shared for the first time in decades, the details of how he went from a graduate of Badin High School into the Vietnam War.

READ MORE: Butler County veteran earns 2 Bronze Stars decades after service

Cecil Daily, 89, proudly wears a black baseball hat embroidered with “WWII, Korean, Vietnam Veteran.” When asked about the hat, he says: “You can’t buy this thing.” NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

Cecil Daily

Daily was assigned to a cargo ship when it allegedly was sunk by an enemy torpedo. His parents were told by U.S. officials all servicemen aboard the ship were killed. But Daily said the torpedo sailed under his ship, and sank a nearby vessel. 

His parents had been told he was dead, so they were surprised when he returned home. 

So what did a man who escaped death do after the war? He enlisted and served during the Korean War and Vietnam War. Daily, who enlisted in 1943 — then a 16-year-old high school freshman in Hamilton — retired from the service in 1970.

READ MORE: Once thought to have died at sea, Butler County veteran serves 3 wars

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