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WWII veteran fires cannon for first time since 1945

By Shannon Ballard 9:41 PM December 18, 2013

Veterans participate in military operations they hadn't done in years

ANCHORAGE – WWII veterans participated in military operations they hadn’t done in years on Wednesday.

The howitzer cannons fired at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson looked entirely different than the ones Norman Elliot remembers.

“I didn’t even recognize it from the 105s that I knew,” Elliot said.

But hearing rounds fired and commands given by men much younger than him took Elliot back to World War II and his time spent in Europe. He was an artillery soldier in a unit similar to ones at JBER.

“Except we had four howitzers, they have six,” he explained.

Elliot was in command.

“My unit was far inside Germany when WWII ended,” Elliot said. “We sat for two weeks waiting for the Russians to take Berlin. We could have walked into Berlin. I think they would have welcomed us because they were terrified of the Russians.”

After the war Elliot was stationed in Alaska, where he stayed. For half a century he’s been ministering for the Episcopal Church around the state.

In a few weeks he’ll be 95 years old. Elliot estimates the last time he fired a howitzer was in 1945, but that changed Wednesday. He fired the last round of the day from the Malamute Drop Zone.

Elliot said he relates to the men who fire howitzers and admires them for their volunteered service.

“These fellas are here because they want to be and that’s something,” he said.

Elliot retired in 1990, but is still active in the community. He was recently appointed to Anchorage’s Military and Veterans Commission.

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