WWII Vet: Happy To Leave 'Worst Place You Can Be'
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And on this Veterans Day, throughout our show, were hearing from those who have served in the nations wars. NPRs Greg Allen spent time in Key Largo, Florida with one veteran of World War II.
GREG ALLEN: Walter Kush is a hale 86 today, but he was just a teenager in World War II.
Kush was a flight engineer assigned to a B-24 crew that flew bombing missions over Austria, France and Germany.
When he saw another B-24 explode in midair during his first mission, he made himself a promise.
Mr. WALTER KUSH: I made a vow that for two things. I made a vow, and said that Ill never worry and Ill never wait in line. And believe me, I dont do that.
ALLEN: I asked Kush what kind of welcome he received when he returned home to New York.
Mr. KUSH: As much as I thought should be. I wasnt too concerned about the expecting a big homecoming and all this. I was so glad to home, you know, who wants anything like that?
ALLEN: Kush began looking for work. He discovered that a provision of the GI Bill offered veterans financial help as they searched for jobs.
Mr. KUSH: They had a club they called 52-20 club. That meant that they wanted to give you a couple of bucks to tide you over. What it is that you got $20 a week for 52 weeks. I got in line to go in there and I said, uh-uh. I said, Im not going to wait in line. I said I dont need them. Im going to get busy and get some work. I dont need Ive never accepted a welfare check, never accepted nothing.
ALLEN: Kush eventually moved with his family from New York to California, where he built missiles for Rockwell International until his retirement. In Key Largo, hes active with the local VFW, but says he rarely talks about his war experiences.
Mr. KUSH: We done what were supposed to do, and we did it.
ALLEN: World War II Veteran Walter Kush.
Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.
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