Two Comical World War II Veterans Experience Serendipity

History |

A duo of 90-year-old patients admitted to the Forest Lake Rehabilitation Center found out that they were both deployed in World War II and were from the same infantry division nicknamed "Tropic Lightning". The two previous Browning Automatic Riflemen were stationed in the Philippines.

They each were happily married and had their own families but not once had they ever crossed paths. El Ewert moved to Minnesota and Francis Laquay moved to North Dakota. Both of whom, were in the Midwest.

Fracis Laquay reminisced about the times in Philippines and about the rifles they used back then.

"They are all automatic and had a 20 shell magazine, you can shoot one at a time or you can shoot multiple shots." said Laquay. His love for was undeniable.

The Battle of Balete Pass or also known as, Dalton Pass, was one of the gruesome war in history. The name Dalton Pass was taken after General James Dalton, in honor of his bravery. He was in the 161st unit that was deployed to the Philippines. Balete Pass is a piece of terrain part of the South of Caraballo Sur that connect to Sierra Madre. This place was where American and Filipino soldiers tried to dislodge Japanese Shobu soldiers from February to March 1945. Thousands of Americans, Filipinos and Japanese died in Balete Pass.

Francis Laquay and El Ewert were both awarded the Purple Heart and was severely injured in combat.

"People ask, what do you think of the war? You don't. Everybody is in the same shoes, if you had time to be scared, I didn't have time to be scared.” Said Ewert.

When they were sat in the same room for an interview, they might be a little older but are still very cheeky and was happy to talk about their days in the military. Ewert found the whole unique situation crazy and Laquay found it ironic that he had never ran into Ewert.

"It's the first time that I ever, in seven years, run into a guy in my division, and I'm the first one that he ever met." said Laquay.


They were both in the rehab center because Ewert had shrapnel in his left leg and Laquay still has shards of metals in his right. Both of their injuries were sustained from the war.

"I don't have hair." said a very comical Ewert and made the room laughed.

"And I do." followed Laquay.

When asked what they usually converse between each other, it was nothing any of us wil expect.

"Whatever happens that comes along," said Laquay.

"Or whenever a girl walks by." continued Ewert.

All we do know is that the two comical 90-year-olds deserves all the happiness in the world and we thank them for their outstanding courage and service.

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