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96 year old veteran shares his memories of World War II

96 year old World War II vet shares war story
Posted at 5:25 AM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 05:25:01-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Veterans met Sunday at the Coral Ridge Veteran Honor Garden in Cape Coral to prepare for their 41st Annual Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony.

That is where we met World War II veteran Col. Frank Cohn.

At the age of 96, still standing strong, moving at a steady pace, and memory sharp, Col. Cohn shared what he experienced towards the end of World War II.

“General Eisenhower had designated the Elbe River as a delineation line which the Soviets were not to cross so our two armies could stay apart,” Col. Cohn said. "We had intelligence for every big city. We were at Kassel when they told us, 'Forget about Kassel.'"

After being notified that the Russian army was on the other side of the river, Col. Cohn and his unit were ordered to head to Magdeburg.

“And my captain got a top-secret map that showed the occupation zones. That indicated that the Soviets would have Magdeburg to the west in their zone. But he had the orders to take the map across and tell them ‘Don’t cross now, cross in a couple of months,'" Col. Cohn said.

Much to Col. Cohn's surprise, he was chosen to carry the map.

"[My captain] was looking for a Russian-speaking interpreter, but couldn't find one. He turned to me and said 'You are my interpreter' - I spoke German," laughed Col. Cohn. "I’m trying to get out of this. I knew I would be worthless because I couldn’t speak Russian, but he was like 'No, no - you carry the map.'”

Col. Cohn did just that, traveling across the river, uncertain of what he will see once he arrived.

"You can’t imagine the reception we received, I mean they hugged us, they kissed us, they gave us vodka. I was 19 years old and I never had any vodka,” Col. Cohn laughed.

At the time, Col. Cohn said he didn't understand the reception, but as time went on it finally dawned on him.

"When they finally saw an American in uniform they knew there were no more Germans in front of them, and they had survived the war," Col. Cohn said. "They were celebrating their survival."

Survival is something so precious that not every soldier gets after paying the sacrifice for freedom. To honor those who paid the price, Coral Ridge Funeral home and Cemetery will host its 41st Annual Memorial Day service.

"Memorial Day with our family at Coral Ridge we feel Memorial Day is every day for us," said Air-Force Veteran Chuck Warren. "It's all about honoring and remembering who has fallen to ensure that we are free here."

The ceremony starts at 10:00 a.m Monday with a motorcycle ride-in. The ceremony will also have a fly-in salute by the Lee County mosquito control district, a proclamation, and guest speakers.

"It's a feeling when they go away knowing that there are people protecting them and people who have died to protect them," Warren said emotionally.

3,000 soldiers will be honored at the ceremony, Col. Cohn will also be a guest speaker.