World War II vet visits Byram Intermediate

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:44

BYRAM — On Friday, Dec. 8, the eighth-graders and faculty of Byram Intermediate School were visited by World War II veteran Sergeant Walter E. Hughes of Port Jervis, NY. Sergeant Hughes enlisted in the U. S. Army in December 1943 at the age of 18 and served his nation honorably. He was attached to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. During the war, he saw combat in the Netherlands and Belgium and was in Germany when the Allied forces occupied Berlin. For his service to his country Sergeant Hughes was well decorated. He earned a Bronze Star, a Presidential Unit Citation, an American Defense Medal, a WWII Victory Medal and the European Theatre of Operation Medal with three Campaign Stars and one Arrowhead. In addition, Sergeant Hughes was awarded the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster. The Purple Heart is awarded to American soldiers who are injured in combat. Hughes was injured twice in Europe. Traditional educational materials do not convey the same magnitude as actually hearing about historical events from people who witnessed them. The students were humbled as they listened intently to Sergeant Hughes describe his experiences as an American soldier serving in the European Theatre. As time passes, the opportunity to listen to the first hand experiences of World War II veterans diminishes. The students realized how fortunate they were to have had to opportunity to listen to and ask Sergeant Hughes questions about his time in service to the United States.