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‘I loved my boys’ Veteran reflects on camaraderie, time served in war on 100th birthday


By Ken Corn

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    HAYWOOD COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — Haywood County resident Alcy Kates turned 100 years old on Monday. The World War II veteran spent the morning with News 13’s Ken Corn, talking about his time marching across Europe with the 71st Infantry division.

Monuments remembering the ultimate sacrifice given to this county by Haywood County natives line the sidewalk leading to the courthouse steps.

Some of the names include those who began their service by joining the North Carolina National Guard in Waynesville before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.

Kates was one of those native sons that joined the Guard in town before America entered World War II.

“By joining the National Guard I knew I might have to go and fight,“ said Kates.

And he did go to war. He faced the Germans in Europe.

“One night that the Germans come through with their planes, you could tell the difference between the sound of theirs and ours,” said Kates. “They dropped flairs to where they light up the whole of creation just like it was daylight. Then they dropped those little old anti-personnel bombs.”

His skull was fractured by flying shrapnel and the muscles of his right arm were severed to the bone. His fellow soldiers carried him to safety.

“They took me to an aid station and the nurse asked them ‘should I give him a shot?’ And they said ‘you better give him blood because he is gone,’ and I was gone,” said Kates.

He almost became one of those names on a monument in front of the Haywood County courthouse.

“One morning I woke up in a big old tent,” said Kates. “Doctor said, ‘anybody that has lost that much blood didn’t usually live’.”

He received a Purple Heart from the Army.

“If you had a skull fracture as severe as mine, you wasn’t supposed to go back in to combat,” said Kates. “ But I begged them to let me go back into combat, so I went back to my company and finished out the war.”

He went back for one simple reason.

“I loved my boys,” said Kates.

That devotion to his beloved boys earned him the bronze star.

“And I wanted to finish it (the war) out with them.”

Kates did finish out the war in Europe and returned to Haywood County. On Monday, 76 years after returning home and 100 years after his birth, he earns another title for his devotion to life.

“It seems like any other day.”

A centenarian.

“I never did think I would reach here, but I got here, said Kates. “I don’t know how much further I’m going but what ever the Lord wants, that’s alright with me.”

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