If you ask Walt Fergus how he’s doing, he’ll laugh and tell you, “I’m surviving.”

At 94 years old, the Purple Heart recipient said there are some holes in his memory, but he recalled his dad’s reaction when he enlisted.

“I joined the Army, the war had just started. My father had a fit because he needed me on the farm,” Fergus said.

His dad was a wheat farmer in Kansas. Fergus was set on his decision to join.

“I was a gunner in an aircraft for a while. That’s how I became a guest,” he said.

A guest — or prisoner of war — of the Germans after his plane was shot down during a mission over Italy in 1945.

Fergus was also the guest of honor at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Glenn Massay Theater. The dozens of people who filled the auditorium learned Fergus reenlisted after he came home from World War II and then did two tours in Vietnam.

“Where else would I go?” he laughed. “That’s what I wanted to do.”

He served for 28 years and retired as a sergeant major at Fort Richardson in 1971.

Now he’s considered one of Alaska’s last surviving WWII prisoners of war.

Fergus believes Veterans Day should honor all who served and wondered why he was chosen for a special distinction.

He received a standing ovation as he accepted a folded flag, a token of thanks for the sacrifices he made during nearly three decades of service.

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