By Jasmine Willis
NUNDA — Local war hero was honored for making it to a century on this earth at the Woodlynn Hills Golf Course.
WWII Veteran Staff Sgt. Harold “Bud” Long served from 1942 to 1945 in the US Army. He is a D-Day Survivor. He fought in four major battles in the European Theater. He grew up in Grand Island and moved to Nunda in 1972. It is this community that has always felt like home to him. He has been a proud member of the Woodlynn Hills Golf Course for over many years. He still enjoys taking on the course.
Family, friends, and fellow veterans gathered to honor him on June 6 for his 100-year birthday.
Retired Nunda Police Sgt. Steve Rapp grew up with Harold’s grandchildren. He had so much respect for this veteran.
“Bud is 100 years old and I guess he played golf this morning so God Bless him. I am Steve Rapp a member of Honor Flight in Rochester. I grew up in Nunda. I have known Bud’s family. I went to school with Bud’s grandkids. I really got to know Bud through the Honor Flight program. I got to hear Bud’s story. I think about the trials and tribulations we have all gone through and some of the garbage I been through with the police. We don’t really have it all that bad. Bud was born June 6, 1921. He spent his 23-year birthday on Omaha Beach, D-Day, Normandy. He was one of the leading waves in and said it wasn’t very pleasant. He survived that and made it all the way across France. He was at the Battle of the Bulge,” he said. “He was in on a Concentration Camp liberation. It is a very sensitive topic. The only thing Bud referenced was how horrific it was smelling it five miles before they got to it and seeing what was inside there. The fact he survived all of that and made it back home to celebrate what we are today and what we are as a country is amazing.”
NYS Sen. George Borrello honored Harold “Bud’ Long with a proclamation.
“The service you provided for this nation and the people here in this community is a testament to what this nation is about. In an age like this where we want to cancel the past and try to change the future, I want people to know it is folks like yourself that are the foundation of freedom and democracy. It gives me hope that this nation will continue on to be great. Thank you so much for being that foundation and giving so much to preserve the American dream,” he said.
Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes honored Harold “Bud” Long with a certificate.
“On behalf of the entire NYS Assembly and myself please accept this citation on behalf of the entire body. We think you are the greatest in everything you have accomplished in your life,” she said.
Nunda Mayor Jack Morgan made a special plaque to honor Harold “Bud” Long.
“Bud you are an extraordinary person in every way. You are exactly the role model this world needs right now. In recognition of Chevalier Harold Brunswick “Bud” Long’s many years of service as friend and neighbor to all of us in Nunda. His many courageous and selfless acts as a combat fighter in the Second World War. His celebration of the milestone of his 100th birthday on June 6. We declare the 6th of June, 2021 as Bud Long day,” he said.
WWII Veteran Peter DuPre known as Harmonica Pete came to play for a fellow solider.
Long shared some stories of how he arrived on D-Day, coming on a concentration camp at the end of the war, and how he stole a German vehicle to get away.
“We had a German truck we were on with fake numbers that we stole to get the guns out of it. We thought we were going to get caught, but they didn’t stop us. We were going the wrong way, but they let us go. We saw a concentration camp at the end of the war. You could smell it for five miles away. We had taken the gate down and will never forget what we saw. The Germans had left about three days before that. The guys that were still alive were starving. We wanted to feed them, but we couldn’t because their stomachs would explode. The medic had to spoon feed them and give them a tiny cup of water every hour,” he said. “On D-Day we were given rations. I remember we were on a ship and part of the third wave. I thought we would be fine since we weren’t the first or second wave. When we saw Omaha Beach it looked like a 500-foot sand wall. We were all backed into the ship there were so many of us in our gear. The ship was going too fast when it hit the sand and a 20-foot wave went over our heads. It took all of our gear off. We had to run off the ship and grab the guns left on the beach to start shooting. The guys were shooting down on us as we climbed up. We had to throw hand grenades up there.”
“The night on the beach was hard. We were told we couldn’t make any noise or movement. Any movement or noise and you would hear all these gunshots at the beach all night long. A farmer lost all of his cows that night. We didn’t think D-Day would go down as an historic event at the time. We thought it would be a piece of cake. We were all young and tough back then,” Long continued. “We lost a lot of lives on D-Day. I am one of the lucky ones that made it back. When we got out there were some sick, wounded, and I was heartsick. There were only 20 of us left and the rest were replacements. I had trained and fought with these guys and they were all gone.”
WWII Veteran Bob Persichitti served in the US Navy from 1942 to 1945. He was in two major battles Iwo Jima and Invasion of Okinawa.
“I grew up in the Great Depression. My father has passed away and I had to work at the CCC Camps for six months to make some money. I volunteered for the war. I needed to bring in some money to support my family. I was in two major battles the Iwo Jima and Invasion of Okinawa. The scariest part was that the Japs were suicidal, and they would fly their planes into the ships,” he said. “They were given orders that they couldn’t come back home. It was horrible what they would do to themselves and were told to take as many marines out as they could.”
Persichitti said he lost both of his parents. In 1944 he was allowed to return for his mother’s service, so he missed the D-Day battle. He recalls hearing about it on the news, and the entire community went out to church to pray and cry for the boys fighting over there. He said most of the boys in his hometown joined since that was what honor was in those days.
“In 1965 they gave the Island of Iwo Jima back to the Japs. Now you can only go over there once a year and for a very special time. I was allowed to go back when I was on the Honor Flight. We did 10 stops for the flight. It brought it all back to me when I stepped foot on those shores. When I stepped foot on that island again, I remembered we were kids. I remember some of us didn’t make it back off that island,” he said. “The kids that never got recognized were the Navahos who were with us that day. It always broke my heart that they never got the appreciation they deserved, because they kept us alive. They should’ve been honored. We had two of them on shore with us who would give the codes back to the ones on the ship to tell where to hit. The Japs didn’t know how to break the code. The Japs were all underground in these caves all over the island. They would hide there all night long and you would see enemy fire coming from these holes in the ground. We lost thousands of men on that island because of that.”
Persichitti recalls writing in his war diary about the famous moment when the flag was raised on Iwo Jima. He witnessed both the original and the second flag go up. He took a photo of the event never fully understanding the historic significance until decades later.
Journalists were onboard to go and document the carnage of the battle every day, and this was how many of them found out just what happened in these caves.
For many decades these war stories like the ones shared at this special event stayed among the heroes. They would come home from the long war and only talk to each other. It took foundations like Honor Flight to bring these stories to life. The greatest generation fought the hardest battles to ensure our freedom, and built the country we found hope and dreams in for generations to come.
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