TALLULAH, La. (KTVE/KARD) – On August 8, 2022, the City of Tallulah honored a World War II veteran on his 99th birthday.

The City of Tallulah gave Rufus Puckett a Key to the City. Puckett fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, where the Germans launched a massive attack on the Allied Forces. A memory this 99-year-old veteran says he rather not think about. 

“Some of it I would like to not talk about because it brings such bad memories.”

But, Puckett says he can not erase everything from his memory. He joined the U.S. Army in his teenage years, an experience that remains a blur and vivid.

“The ship came so close to the bay, and it hit us in what is called PT boats. You had to have your PAX, your guns, hand grenades, and all your firing material on. It made you hit that beach and started fighting, and when you got there we waited and waved, but it looked to me that everybody got killed.” 

A traumatic experience for one of the few African Americans to fight during the time of segregation. Although the welcoming back to America wasn’t what he expected, decades later, Puckett was honored to receive the World War II Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, and the American Campaign Medal. 

“People have noticed that in every show, in everything that we did, they taped it out from the public. And still do until today, I guess, they didn’t give us any recognition for what we did.”

And on his birthday, along with his family and the City, he received the Key to the City of Tallulah, an honor he says he will cherish for life. 

“I feel really good. Some people I have never seen before, I’ve seen them today, and that’s a good part of it.”

Although he says he is grateful for the life he has lived, he encourages and prays for the youth to stay out of trouble.

“I would tell them what my mom told me. Don’t forget to pray, and I did it and never forgot it until today. I believe that is why I’m alive today.” 

Puckett says praying is what kept him alive because he never thought he would make it back home to see his family. 

Once again, Happy Birthday Mr. Puckett!