WEST BEND, Wis. - Memorial Day is a day to reflect and honor all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend America and freedom.
99-year-old Gordon Moen remembers his time in World War II.
"Clear as a bell. It was quite the experience," said Gordon Moen.
Moen enlisted on Aug. 30, 1942. He was called to active duty in Feb. 1943 when he was a junior at UW-Lacrosse.
"Was I scared? I suppose I was scared," said Moen.
He immediately joined the Air Force and was deployed in Sept. 1943.
"We'd load the bombs up and drop them and load them and drop them," said Moen.
Almost losing his life when the city Moen was stationed at in Italy was bombed. He remembers those frightening moments as he made a quick decision to move for more protection.
"After I got up and looked around, where I had been laying was completely wiped out," said Moen. "If I wouldn't have changed positions, I knew I would have been killed."
In 1945, Moen was discharged and came back to the U.S. He finished up his degree and started serving his community as a teacher at West Bend West High School.
Patty Hupfer Riedel was in Moen's freshmen honors earth landforms class.
Gordon Moen, Patty Hupfer Riedel
"He treated us well and he expected a lot of us, and we were better for it," said Patty Hupfer Riedel.
The two kept in touch…
"As a 14-year-old, maybe it doesn't matter to us but now when I hear about all the stories, it's just an incredible journey that he's had in his life and the service that he's had," said Riedel.
On a day to reflect and honor those who've paid the ultimate sacrifice.
'I was so fortunate," said Moen.
Moen doesn't take anything in his 99 years of life for granted.
"I'm just so blessed," said Moen.
Moen was a teacher for 36 years – 29 of them spend at West Bend West High School. He retired in 1994.