Local WWII veterans react to recent hate crimes, violence in Charlottesville

Posted at 10:37 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 08:36:42-04

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Jim Young was listening on the radio. Only 16 years old at the time, he knew he wanted to go overseas and fight. 

“I followed it rigorously,” the now 86-year-old veteran said. “I wanted to go to the airforce because there was more action.” 

World War II U.S. Army veteran John Hammons felt the same way. 

“It was my duty [to serve],” the now 91-year-old U.S. Army veteran told 41 Action News. 

Now, 72 years after the war, both veterans are concerned about what they are seeing on the news and in their own cities — alleged hate crimes and citizens fighting against one another. 

“The war didn’t have people fighting each other. When they fought, they were military. Civilians were not fighting each other,” said Young, who became the number one weapons director in the 12th Airforce Division, which was stationed in Germany. 

This past weekend, violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, as Neo-Nazi and white supremacist protestors marched through the streets and through the University of Virginia campus.

One woman died after a car plowed through a crowd of counter-protestors. 

Kansas City has also experienced recent acts of hatred. Avila University officials say a swastika was written in chalk outside of Dallas Hall and discovered Monday. The private university sent students and faculty an email calling it a “hate crime.” 

“I think it’s terrible. Why would you do such a thing,” said Hammons, who was captured by the Germans. 

Hammons said he fought hard against the Nazis and Axis Powers, and almost lost his life. He eventually earned a Purple Heart for his service. If he had not been hurt and sent back to the United States, Hammons said he would have been captured again and taken to a concentration camp as a prisoner of war.

“It’s absolutely not right to do such things that they are doing today. And they are doing it every day of the world,” he said.