AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – Never in his 94 years has Lloyd Barber been on television. So you can imagine his surprise when FOX31 showed up with our camera Thursday — and the even bigger surprise when he found out why.
“Oh my word. What do I say?” said Barber.
When you’re humble like him, you don’t expect things like this to happen, even when they’re well-deserved. And in Barber’s case, this honor is well-deserved. He joined the Navy in 1944 at age 17, and then went to war. He crisscrossed the Pacific onboard the USS Granville, under relentless fire from both the enemy and Mother Nature.
Powering through typhoons, his ship had the dangerous task of safely delivering troops into and out of combat zones. He remembers the night a nearby ship, the USS New Mexico, was hit by a kamikaze pilot back in May 1945 off the coast of Okinawa, killing 54 sailors and Marines.
“They hit the New Mexico, you could see the bodies flying in the air. And (a kamikaze plane) was coming in on us, and thank goodness we were able to shoot it down,” Barber said.
It was not an easy thing for a teenager to see. And it might help explain the tears, when he thinks back on his time at war.
Barber was one of the lucky ones. He made it home alive. After the war he spent 42 years selling cash registers, and then worked at a golf course for more than two decades as a retiree. These days, he lives at a senior living center in Aurora, where his kids check in on him often. In fact, his son is the one who nominated him for Hero of the Month.
His children are proud of him. And we can all be proud of his service.
To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, military family or volunteer for Hero of the Month, visit the nomination page.