Dying WWII Navy veteran has wish fulfilled

Shanklin, retired Sailor, saluted the officers who visited him on Friday afternoon.

A Beaufort man has his dying wish fulfilled, to speak with some naval officers one last time. James Shanklin enlisted in the Navy when he was just 17. The Sailor served in the Pacific during World War II. He is part of what’s called the ‘Greatest Generation,’ but he had a surprise of his lifetime on Friday afternoon.

“I was no hero,” Shanklin repeated to the four officers who surprised him in his home.

The men insisted he was, shaking his hand, saluting him, and presenting him with a framed certificate of appreciation for his service. It was Caroline Hospice Care who set-up the meeting, in order to honor Shanklin’s request.

“You could just tell he was overwhelmed,” Caregiver Andree Lloyd said. “This is probably my favorite day in my job…to be able to give him that opportunity to have what he wanted, which was his final wish was to have the Naval officers come here in uniform and thank him.”

“Those veterans won the war,” Shanklin said of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ “I’d do it all over again.”

Shanklin served in the Navy for five years. He was overseas when Japan surrendered. Now living in the Shell Point area outside of Beaufort, he and his wife have been in the same home for more than 30 years. He is confined to his home now, on bed rest.

“It’s good for him to be with the Navy, and part of the Navy, and recognized, not like some other people that were forgotten,” Shanklin’s wife, Joan, said.

Shanklin did have the opportunity to go on the very first Honor Flight from Savannah to Washington, D.C.

“I went to the WWII Memorial with him, and I cried as much as he did, and I was two years old when he was fighting in the war. So, does that tell you something?” Joan Shanklin said.

The 88 year old has experienced many memorable life moments, but he called the meeting with the officers ‘wonderful,’ just as special as the rest.

“That’s good enough for me,” he said.

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