WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A 99-year-old World War II veteran from Wyoming is sharing pictures and video he took aboard his ship in Japan.
Sid Lenger, who served aboard the USS LST 651, showed the movie he made Wednesday afternoon at Marge’s Donut Den along 28th Street in Wyoming. A few dozen people showed up to see it.
“It’s good that people realize there are… people that do care. So many of them don’t that it’s good to hear a few of them that do,” Lenger said, pausing when he became emotional.
Lenger is among only four remaining crewmembers of the LST 651. Late Tuesday afternoon, a man who worked by his side on that ship arrived in West Michigan for a long-awaited reunion. He also came to show support for Lenger’s video debut.
24 Hour News 8 got an early look at Lenger’s footage as he recalled his service overseas.
“We were in the first wave at Okinawa,” an emotional Lenger explained. “Okinawa was the longest battle of the war.”
He explained that he was drafted into the U.S. Navy in 1944. By the next year, he was a gunman aboard the LST 651. He said he shot at the nonstop kamikaze pilots who plummeted toward his ship.
“(There were) about 1,500 people killed (the) first two days and that’s what we were in. We were in that whole mess and then we stayed there for 24 days – no sleep,” Lenger told 24 Hour News 8.
Japanese aircraft figurines hang from a basement room ceiling in his home. They’re small reminders of what flew overhead.
“We never hit the sack until 24 days later,” he said.
David “Goldie” Goldsboro, now 92 years old, made sure Lenger’s gun was loaded with magazine after magazine. The two were unstoppable.
“We were one. I couldn’t do nothing without him, he couldn’t do nothing without me,” Lenger remembered.
Lenger estimated each magazine weighed as much as 70 pounds.
“He (Goldie) was a farmer and he could pick those up like nothing. He just picked it up, boom! He never missed one. If he had missed it, we would have problem been,” Lenger said before becoming too emotion to speak.
On Tuesday evening, the pair of veterans were reunited in Grand Rapids. Lenger footed the hotel bill after Goldie’s son agreed to drive him from Brownstown, Illinois, to West Michigan. They last saw each other during a reunion 15 years ago.
After years apart, the two veterans hugged inside the hotel lobby. They immediately jumped back into conversation as if they had spent only a few days apart.
On Thursday, they will tour the LST 393 museum in Muskegon.