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World War II vet
brings comfort to others

 

  At 86 years young, Henry County resident Cecil Hand is busier than some people half his age.

Photo by Nick Vassy

  The World War II veteran, who spent two years in the South Pacific, now spends his free time volunteering for Sacred Journey Hospice where he brings comfort and solace to the lonely and terminally ill. He also delivers a special plaque and United States flag pin to veterans who are in hospice care, whether in the facility or in hospice at home.

  “Most people in hospice are so lonely,” said Hand. “They just want someone to talk to.”

  As a veteran himself, Hand has a special place in his heart for veterans. He enlisted in the Navy when he was just 18 years old. He was a Sea Bee in the 148th Battalion, on a Navy construction ship, that unloaded supplies. He worked on the USS Florence Nightingale and docked at several islands in the South Pacific, including Okinawa.

  “We unloaded rockets, jeeps, gasoline and anything they needed. We worked 24/7, and there was always work to be done,” he said. 

  Before enlisting in the Navy, he worked for the railroad as a telegraph operator and after his two years of service, returned to the railroad where he worked for 44 years. He ended his career with Norfolk Southern as a mobile freight agent.

  Hand is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Jonesboro, where he serves as president of his Sunday school class, and in his spare time, he enjoys gardening, particularly growing flowers.

  Although he lives in Stockbridge now, Hand was born and raised in Hampton. He was one of six children, and although his only brother and one sister are gone, three of his sisters are still living, including his older sister who is 92 and resides in Jackson. He said his father, Charlie Hand, was a police officer in Hampton, and said he remembers fondly growing up and going to school there.

Hand credits his longevity to good genes, along with daily exercise and eating healthy. He does all of his own cooking and baking and works out at Gold’s Gym.

  “I swim twice week and try to do ten laps at a time,” he said. “I usually make it to about seven or eight.”

   Hand said that the work he does with hospice patients, particularly the veterans, is very gratifying. He said he sits with people who he knew growing up and feels blessed to be able to do it. He travels throughout the south metro area for his volunteer work.

  “I get so much more out of volunteering with hospice patients than they do,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll cook for them, but mostly just talk and listen.”

 

 

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