With applause, World War II veteran Bill Barnes, 92, stood for something he didn't think possible.
"I'm a country boy from the Mississippi Delta of Clarksdale and I never thought I'd be here but it is a wonderful experience that I've had," said Barnes.
Barnes, who has lung cancer, made a dying wish about a month ago to have his Coast Guard uniform become a permanent display in the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby. He wanted it to honor and recognize Mississippi veterans. Friday morning, that wish came true.
"It just closes the book so to speak on all of these 70 years that I've been talking Coast Guard," said Barnes.
"They choose to serve our country, they choose to make a difference, they choose to take a level of citizenship not everybody does and that's worthy of respect," said Museum Director Chad Daniels.
Barnes joined the Coast Guard at age 21 the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a gunner stationed on a ship in the Pacific, Barnes shot down enemy planes. It's that type of dedication which Captain Jon Gage with the U.S. Coast Guard says exemplifies the military spirit.
"He took his experience and he left a legacy for the rest of us," said Capt. Gage.
With that legacy and his uniform now fixtures in Mississippi's military history, Barnes' son Allen takes pride in knowing a piece of his father will always live on.
"That's something that he's really wanted and so we're glad that they finally have done that and we're honored too," said Barnes.
With his past now looking back at him, for Barnes, his wish is more like a dream.
"I just can't believe it. I wish someone would pinch me so I would wake up or something like that but it's just fabulous, just fabulous," said Barnes.
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