POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - A man from Poplarville was recognized for his decades of service in the military Sunday afternoon.
Former Lt Col. Joe Ferrill served in the military for 41 years as a fighter pilot at the end of World War II and in the Vietnam and Korean wars.
"I've been flying all my life, and I wish I could go back to it now," Ferrill said.
When he was 20 years old, he flew his first fighter plane in Germany and said it was the highlight of his career.
"This little boy from Jones County never put his foot on the soil in Europe, and here they are trying to kill me," Ferrill said.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Poplarville decided to recognize Ferrill on National Loyalty Day. Observed on May 1, it's a holiday that recognizes the freedom that we have as Americans.
"It's amazing to me now that the number of young people about 18, 19 or 20 years old come and shake my hand and say I appreciate your service and it really makes you feel good," Ferrill said.
Veteran Hudson Holliday is good friends with Ferrill and said it's important to appreciate World War II veterans, especially since there are only a few World War II veterans left.
"We're losing these veterans and we're losing these stories every day," Holliday said. "Too many of us don't appreciate the freedoms that we have."
However, at the Poplarville airport, it was obvious that these men truly appreciated Ferrill. They got to discuss their shared passion for airplanes and loved listening to his war stories.
"I look up to guys like that and I feel like there is a need to give back to the old men like Mr. Joe," said VFW Commander Michael Holliday.
Ferrill said he hopes the sacrifices he's made in the past will protect future generations and keep them from experiencing the same hardships that he did at war.
"I just turned 91, I think God's been good to me," Ferrill said. "I believe there is a God, and He looked after me."
Ferrill also witnessed the Nuremberg Trials and was a pilot for airlines between wars. He currently lives with his wife, whom he's been married to for over 50 years.