Veteran Reflects on 80 Years - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Veteran Reflects on 80 Years

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The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, making this America's 238th birthday.

On this day of patriotism, one veteran reflects on 80 years of a life well lived.

You must write your own history, and Dr. Paul Purdy says it's in this country that you have that liberty.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "My memory is very good. I remember when I was 12 and thinking, what am I going to do in life? Things of that nature, now I'm on the other end and looking back with great gratitude."

While celebrating independence, Purdy is also celebrating his 80th birthday this week, reflecting on a history all his own.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "I went from welfare to doctor of dental surgery and a captain in the air force and that was the start of my life right there."

He finished dental school at the age of 24.

Not ready to return to North Dakota, Purdy volunteered for the draft and received orders for Japan where he met a unique character.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "There are two movies that people have heard of Tora Tora Tora which means attack attack attack and then a more modern one: Pearl Harbor."

There are two prominent people depicted in those movies: Admiral Yamamoto who was killed in WWII and Commander Genda, two men that planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "One of our specialists treated him, I'd great him in the morning. He was a general and I'd say, "Good morning General!" I didn't know his significance until later."

Back in the states, Purdy turned the page.

He bought a Rambler in 1960 and headed for the east coast.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "As I got to Rhode Island, I read in the paper that John F. Kennedy was speaking there. It was the last day of the campaign."

He continued following Kennedy, and was there for the press conference when JFK became president elect.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "You couldn't get inside, but you could be outside, I even took my shoes off and stood on a police car."

Turning to leave, he brushed shoulders with another Kennedy.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "I said, 'Robert can I take your picture?"

Kennedy quoted a man who was president elect 100 years earlier, Abraham Lincoln.

A message Dr. Purdy has carried with him, and recites by heart.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "I know there's a God and I know he hates injustice. I see the storm coming. But if there's a place an a part for me, I think I'm ready."

He returned to Minot, practicing dentistry in his hometown for 45 years, and married his sweetheart Mary Catherine.

(Dr. Paul Purdy, Minot Resident) "I asked her out on a date and she said that would be just fine."

The two of them continued a lifetime of adventure, an adventure for the history books.
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