BRENTWOOD, Tenn. –– Brighton Gardens, an assisted living center in Brentwood, Tenn., presented updated editions of Strength for Service to God and Country to 45 veterans during a Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day program.
Most of the veterans served in World War II when the book was first published.
A two-time Bronze Star winner, Winford (Win) Abney was among the recipients of the volume provided by contributors to the Strength for Service fund. He received the Bronze Stars for participating in battles in Saipan, Iwo Jima and Tinian. Abney served in a unit of an automatic weapons battalion. Of the 24 men in Abney's unit, only three of the orignial members survived all battles. The battalion was unattached, so the Army could send them wherever they were needed to clear a beachhead. Abney's unit was assigned to the Marines in Saipan
In Tinian, where Abney served as chief section officer over 40 and 90 millimeter guns, he watched the Enola Gay take off on August 6, 1945. “At that time we had no idea that the bomber carried an atomic bomb or that its destination was Hiroshima,” said Abney. “We all watched because it was a huge plane.”
"Prior to the Enola Gay bombing, we were about to be shipped to Japan, where we fully expected thousands of U.S. troops and Japanese would die," said Abney. Asked if there was any controversy about dropping the atomic bomb, Abney said, "No one in my unit thought it was a bad idea."
Abney served as a sergeant in the Army from 1942-1945 and he received two purple hearts. He was shot in the hand, and –– in a second incident –– he was wounded above the heart.
The veterans were told how a Boy Scout found a copy of his grandfather’s World War II copy of Strength for Service and arranged for reprinting the book as an Eagle Scout project. A total of 435,000 copies have been printed and most of them have been sent free to active service men and women.