LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - We can easily call the 54 Medal of Honor recipients in Louisville for the annual convention "heroes" for their actions on the battlefield, but many, many more ordinary men and women served our country alongside them. One Louisville man is a World War II veteran and a self-proclaimed "non-hero."
"I put on there I was no hero and I wasn't," Jack Ragan said of the memories he wrote down.
Ragan is special. Around a 1,000 WWII vets die every day, making each of their lives more precious and their stories even more rare.
Ragan began his story in a roundabout way, shortly after Pearl Harbor. Then part of a big band group, Ragan traded in his clarinet for an M-1 rifle.
"I was still playing in the band and there were eight of us and we got together a couple of months after that and we all enlisted," Ragan said.
He served in Trinidad, then Iwo Jima.
"It was one of the toughest ones that anybody ever went through," Ragan said of the battle for the three airfields on the island. "In fact, the first two days on that, they were killing over 1,000 a day of Marines ... but we did the job we had to do."
Ragan's life went on like many other WWII vets. He served four years in the military and left in 1945. Then, he met Peggy.
"She said would you like to have a date with a pretty little girl tonight and I said, 'Hell, yes lady,'" Ragan said of his cousin's introduction to his wife.
They got married. He went on to a civilian job and a family.
"I had a good job," Ragan said. "I had a good marriage with my wife."
Ragan says he's had an ordinary life. This coming Saturday, October 1, will be his 90th birthday.
It's a rare story we can't afford to lose, "because I think a lot of people have forgotten about the Second World War now and it was a different war than what these young people are doing now."
Ragan has survived his wife, his son and all eight of his friends with whom he enlisted. He has traveled around the world, but never back to Iwo Jima.