JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Ollen Hunt, 88, is a World War II combat veteran, retired Soldier, successful businessman, author and longtime Alaskan.
Drafted in 1942, Hunt was trained in infantry skills and food service.
"I'm a Soldier, I always will be," Hunt said. "I'll tell any person ... how happy I am of the companies and what I did."
Hunt served in Italy, fighting the Nazis with the 92nd Infantry Division.
In Thanksgiving of 1944, when commanders wanted to give Soldiers a break from C-rations - the Meals-Ready-to-Eat of their day - Hunt's company was given the mission to prepare a hot meal for the unit, near the Italian city of Pisa.
"We came off the front line, went back and got the equipment and had a brick building designated to prepare the food in," Hunt said. "We had three days to prepare the food and give it to the troops."
Hunt and his team finished the task in two days, which was good.
"On the third day, the Germans melted that building," Hunt said.
German artillery leveled the building where they had been cooking just the day before.
"A service member protecting their country is a wonderful person," Hunt said. "There is no other job that's more important than protecting your country. I think that people should honor their Soldiers."
Hunt retired in 1963, after 21 years of Army service. He still looks back on his military career with fond memories of the people he served with and the others he met along the way.
"I must say one thing; that the military was - of course combat, naturally combat is always nasty - other than combat, the people I've worked with and the people I've met in foreign countries and so forth, have been wonderful," Hunt said. "The Soldiers that I worked with - and I've worked with Soldiers from every state in the United States - it's been a wonderful thing."
Hunt said his parents prepared him well for life by instilling one basic idea at the beginning of regular family meetings.
His mother or father would always start with, "You're growing up. No matter who you meet, no matter where they're from and no matter where they're going - no matter what color they are, black, white or what not, no matter how rich they are or how poor they are, they're no better than you are and you're no better than they are and you treat them as a human being," Hunt said.
"My dad would say, 'You'll get married and you're going to move away from here and you're going to go to other places and so forth. If I find out you're not following this rule, I'll come and straighten you out.' And he would have."
Hunt wrote a book about his life in and outside the military titled, "Buffalo Soldier: What I Did for My Country, What My Country Did for Me," with help from a Veterans Administration project to help veterans record their history.
The book, published in 2006, has sold more than 6,000 copies.