SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – This week we introduce you to a very special WWII Veteran.
He hails from Brooklyn but has called South Florida home for quite some time and has lived to tell an amazing story.
The Florida Panthers recently honored him during a game at the BB&T Center and we proudly get to share his story with you.
“I’ve always been a hockey fan,” WWII Veteran, Ralph Shear said. “Islanders and the Rangers. Now it’s the Panthers, it’s gotta be the Panthers.”
For the past 23 years, Shear had been a Panther fan, but he’s been an American Hero a lot longer than that.
“As a guy that was involved in June the 6th, which was D-day, landing on Omaha beach, where quite a few of the soldiers were killed, and I was one of the lucky ones,” he explained. “Out of my division, we had 15,000 that were killed and wounded. I had to be very lucky; couple of shrapnel wounds in my arms but that was nothing.”
The lucky and brave war veteran, now confined to a wheelchair, stood at attention on the BB&T Center ice for the entire National Anthem prior to the game.
However, it was when the entire arena stood and honored him later in the game, that really impacted him.
His eyes said it all, brimming with tears; a man that gave his all for his country and his flag, getting the biggest thank you from the South Florida community.
When asked, ‘what does the American Flag mean to you?’ he simply responded, “means everything to me. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
And when asked, if he was happy today…
“Very much so. To be able to be here today is a privilege. Very much so.”