Atlanta man is oldest living American paratrooper - KMSP-TV

Atlanta man is oldest living American paratrooper

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Drafted into the Army in 1941, Lew Fern volunteered for parachute school when it was only a provisional program. Drafted into the Army in 1941, Lew Fern volunteered for parachute school when it was only a provisional program.
ATLANTA -

As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend, we'll pause to remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  It's also a great time to thank veterans for their service to our country—veterans just like World War II American hero Lew Fern.  

Drafted into the Army in 1941, Fern volunteered for parachute school when it was only a provisional program.  

"Up until that time, parachuting, you had to be a nut to jump out of a plane," Fern said.  

Less than two years after the attack at Pearl Harbor pulled America into World War II, Fern was making combat jumps—first as part of Operation Husky in Sicily, and later in Salerno, Italy in Operation Avalanche.  Now, at the age of 95, Fern is the oldest living American paratrooper—a distinction for which he takes very little credit.  

"To me, it means I'm living right, and I have a God, and all things are possible through him," said Fern.  

Now, it's the family photo albums Lew shares with his wife of 72 years, Marion, that tell the story.  

In the mid-1930s before he was a soldier, Fern spent three years caddying for Babe Ruth at St. Albans Country Club in New York.

"He was nice," Fern remembers.  "He never said a curse word in front of me.  In fact, I can only remember him smoking an occasional cigar."  

Fern still has the key ring from Ruth's locker at Yankee Stadium from the 1923 World Championship season as a memento, but it's another lesson learned from the Babe that he carried with him his entire life.  

"The kids won't know until we tell them," he explained, "And that was my attitude."

He's spent a lifetime sharing his personal experiences with school kids in Georgia, giving them a first-hand account of the Second World War.  

"There was a Pearl Harbor-- the kids' teachers didn't know anything about it," he said.  "I had to bring that out, and that the United States won that war.  Only I put it in stronger terms:  They saved the world."

And Saving the World is the name of the program that he put together to educate school kids about World War II.  Although at 95, his health won't let him get out to the schools like he once did.

A local author is writing a book about the very interesting life of Lew Fern, which should be out in the next three months.

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