6 WWII vets gather for historic picture

All are members of St. John's United Methodist Church in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – Thanks to one man looking to preserve history, six World War II veterans were brought together for a once-in-a-lifetime photo.

The six not only have a bond because they all played a role in the war, but they just all happen to be members of St. John's United Methodist Church in San Antonio.

The average age of the men is 90.6 years.

John Everett was a B-24 pilot and was shot down over Germany and captured.

"I was shot down on the 18th mission over Saarbrucken (and) captured instantly," Everett said.

He escaped, was captured, then was set free at the end of the war.

Among the other vets, Morris Ellington fought at Guadalcanal, fellow Army man Bruce Warren spent time in the jungles of Guam and Roy Bunch flew missions over enemy lines into Germany.

Jerry Knaupp was a Marine on Iwo Jima with the 2nd Battalion. He hit Iwo Jima with 950 other soldiers and was one of only 18 in his battalion to leave.

He said he was lucky, as he was sitting in a hole with his head sticking up about 6 inches above the ground.

"I bent over to pick something up. A sniper had been watching me (and) a bullet crashed into the back of me and missed me completely," Knaupp said.

Bill St. John was manning a two-story radio tower at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked.

Referring to the Japanese aircraft, St. John said, "They would come up and bank away, gave us a smile and, honest to God, never fired a single shot at us."

The oldest of the six joined the church in 1957; the youngest member in 1999.

"Of all the members of this church, only six of us are World War II (veterans). We're all passing on," said Everett. "World War II is just about over for us."

Church member Dayle Winnie, who gathered the group and took the picture, said he wanted to capture the men's memories for generations to remember their sacrifices.

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