IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WJMN) – Earl Snyder grew up about seven miles south of Oconto, Wisconsin, but he calls Iron Mountain home.
“I lived there until I was in my mid 60s,” said Snyder. “Moved here 35 years ago. It will be 35 in August.”
With his 99th birthday on Easter Sunday, April 17, there are many chapters to Snyder’s story, including serving our country in the United States Navy in World War II.
“I was at Great Lakes from August to October,” said Snyder. “Had a seven day leave. Went back to Great Lakes and was transferred to the University of Missouri for diesel training. We had two months of diesel training there and then I got assigned to… I went first to Norfolk and then to Charleston, South Carolina and went to Trinidad. And that was on the convoy route and we did a lot of repair. Worked for any ship that had trouble on the convoy route. The convoy route was from the U.S., to Guantanamo, Trinidad to Brazil and then across to Africa.”
Snyder was there for 20 months.
“I wasn’t married until when I came home from Trinidad in 1944 and married Ethel,” said Snyder. “And we had gone together before I went into service and then from there, I went to Boston and north of Boston, got a commission and was on a new ship. An LST and we went to New York Harbor and filled our whole tank deck with ammunition. Went through the Panama Canal and out to the Pacific in 1944/45. Ended up at Okinawa. That was the last big battle.”
When the war was over, Snyder was in Manila. He got to go home earlier than others.
“Because of a point system and I got 10 points for being married, which helped,” said Snyder.
Together, Snyder and his wife, Ethel built a beautiful family and life.
“We had six children and one has passed away,” said Snyder. “I have five living children and the five living children are living on social security. Youngest is 63.”
Snyder says one of his favorite pastimes is fishing.
“Fishing a lot of perch and bluegill,” said Snyder. “Did a lot of fishing. My wife loved it too. She passed away in 2012.”
The two were married three weeks shy of 68 years.
As part of the Greatest Generation, a population on the decline, he might have hearing aids and use a cane in the morning, but at almost 99 years old, Snyder is still on the move in his place.
“The only thing I tell everybody is, ‘By the grace of God, I am what I am,'” said Snyder.