Virginia WWII veteran uses carpentry skills to make crosses for military members
PALMYRA, Va. (WVIR) - A World War II veteran in Palmyra is using his gift of carpentry to make a difference for the men and women serving our country.
Fred Lewis started making tiny wooden crosses as a favor for his pastor four years ago. Now, more than 8,000 cedar crosses later, his creation has touched the hearts of those at home and those fighting overseas.
Lewis spent two years in the Philippines during his service. While he was stationed in Manila, his unit treated U.S. prisoners of war that had been captured and held by the Japanese.
“It was the most valuable two years I ever had…I grew from a kid to a man,” Lewis said.
Lewis says it takes him about two hours to cut 150 crosses, which he gives out to people in his community. The master carpenter says he was honored when one of his church members wanted him to make more crosses for his son in the Air Force.
"His dad sent him a little hand full of these and he asked for more so I ended up sending 150 to his son and he distributed them out to his unit and they sent me a photograph back," Lewis said.
Lewis was surprised when the unit presented him with a flag flown on a combat mission along with a plaque at his church.
For Lewis, his real pride and joy are his two grandchildren. One of the two sisters is in the Air Force and the other is in the Navy.
“I don’t know of anything else in the world I’d rather see them do and I have told them so,” Lewis said. "Two of my best little buddies I have in the whole world and they came to see me about a week ago and we had a big-time visiting with me.”
Lewis turns 93 on Saturday and has no plans of slowing down any time soon. In addition to his woodwork, he writes poetry.
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