WEST HARTFORD-- Events around the state are honoring Connecticut residents who served in World War Two.
Ben Cooper has dedicated his life to making sure younger generations will know what it means to come from a time where serving truly meant protecting freedom.
Cooper explained, “It was hell… holy hell.. It was hell it was unbelievable.”
Corporal Cooper came into the military at a time where he says it was only luck that brought him home..
6,649 service-members from Connecticut were killed in action.
Cooper says it wasn’t the fighting that kept him up at night from the days he served, but the sheer brutality he witnessed.
Cooper said, “The British and the French were liberating a lot of places up north, so they sent them to Dachau Concentration Camp and they were still in the freight cars… torture, killed it was unbelievable , mind-boggling it was something you just can’t believe and as a young fellow me and my buddies we all felt the same way… what the hell is going on here and that was only part of it… it was terrible.”
Cooper says when he got back it took him nearly 45 years to speak again about what took place when his troop invaded southern France.
He says it’s important for every generation to know what happened during those times.
Cooper said, “I want them to know the brutality, the hate, the bullying… that’s what Hitler did he bullied the people and they believed him and it was horrible.”
Thursday, Cooper received a wartime service medal and a certificate for his service. Officials say cooper’s generation paved the way for many of us today and we should never forget the sacrifices that were made.
Tom Saadi who is the state’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs commissioner, he said, ”You know Americans we can sometimes be victims of our own success and not realize that our freedom is preserved from those who serve in uniform whether they are her domestically or serving around the world, past and present. Freedom is not free.”
Cooper says he will continue to share his story as long as he can.