CAROLINA FOREST, S.C. (WBTW) — Veterans and spouses of veterans who live in Reflections Assisted Living in Carolina Forest were honored for their service to the country.

Eight veterans, including a World War II vet, were honored simply to say “thank you” for their service.

“I enjoyed it all. It was good service,” said Orville Leisure, an Army veteran. “I was glad that I was able to serve my country. And I certainly didn’t run away. I stuck with it.”

Reflections Assisted Living and Lower Cape Fear Lifecare put together Tuesday’s ceremony.

The Carolina Forest High School JROTC started the ceremony.

Each veteran received a certificate and a special pin, and two roses were given to each wife to honor their spouse for their service.

“They’re always serving and they will always be a veteran, and it’s a great honor to honor them today,” said Helen Braxton, an account executive at Lower Cape Fear Lifecare.

Larry Keathley, 98, was honored for his service in World War II.

“Well, I was, I was in almost three years,” he said. “I went in ’43. I was sworn in at Huntington, West Virginia. And I got out in March of 1946.”

Keathley talked about how there could be veterans all around us and we may never know.

“I see some of these in the hall, and I didn’t realize some of them were veterans,” he said. “You know? So, you never know. Can’t tell a book by its cover.”

Mary Wadzinski’s husband, John, served in the Air Force for 30 years. She lit up telling stories about her husband and how they moved all over the world.

“Then we got stationed, after we got married, we got moved around all over New Mexico and Florida,” she said. “And the next thing he comes home, he says, ‘we’re going to Libya.’ I said, ‘what?”

Leisure was in the Army for 22 years. He served two tours in Tokyo and in Hawaii.

“It’s a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to be honored,” he said. “I enjoyed every bit of my time in the military. And if I was a young buck kid, I’d do it again.”

The ceremony closed with everyone waving their flags and proudly singing “God Bless the USA.”

As veterans age, organizers wanted to honor them now rather than wait until Veterans Day to remind them how appreciative people are of the brave sacrifices they made.

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.