EUGENE, Ore -- A Eugene man will be honored for his service to his country and to his community.
John Gent is a World War II veteran and a lifelong volunteer. On Sunday, April 15, he will be recognized at St. Mary Catholic Church for his 75 years of service as a Knight of Columbus, a Catholic service organization.
Gent joined the Knights of Columbus when he turned 18, the same year he was drafted. Gent says he wanted to join the U.S. Navy, but was declined.
"Everything was fine mentally -- physically they said I couldn't do it because I had four teeth taken out. They did not align and I thought that was terrible," Gent said.
The U.S Army enrolled Gent with no trouble. Gent served as a plane spotter and arrived in Normandy shortly after the landings in 1944.
"I remember it pretty good. There's a lot of incidents in there. They mean something to me, but somebody else might say, "Let's turn the page and listen to something else.'"
Gent adds, "In '46, I was told I could go home and that was one of the nicest things I've heard in a long time."
Gent returned to Oregon and to volunteering. He's been a greeter at the same door at St. Mary's since 1988. Gent is also a Eucharistic Minister, an usher, and eager to help in any capacity including kitchen duty.
"If I didn't have something else I had to do, no problem. I do that, too," Gent said.
Gent doesn't think of himself as a hero, just an regular guy with a mission.
"I wanted to make the world safe for humankind, all of us."
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