Hood River resident and decorated World War II veteran Leo Phillips returned Monday from a 10-day trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City. Phillips had been attending a reunion of 361st Regiment of the 91st Division of the U.S. Army and doing some sightseeing in the nation's capitol and in New York with his son and his family.
Phillips, 82, said he was shocked at the news of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, especially since he was just there.
"We were a couple of miles from the Pentagon," Phillips said of his veterans' reunion, which ended Sunday. "We drove by it every day."
Phillips, who joined the army in 1943 and fought in Italy before being captured by the Germans in 1944 and held in a POW camp near Munich for the remainder of the war, said Tuesday morning's attacks brought back painful memories.
"It brings back memories of when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor," he said. "I never saw Pearl Harbor, but I've seen a lot of towns blown to bits. I went through a lot of bombing raids."
Phillips, who was wounded on several occasions during the war and still carries a bullet in his hip, feels some retaliation would be necessary -- "if they can ever find out who did it." But the veteran, who was unable to talk about his war experiences for 40 years, hopes it won't escalate into a war situation.
"I really feel bad," he said. "And I don't know if they'll ever know how many were killed in this deal. You can hardly walk around back there, there are so many people.
"It's really pitiful. It opens your eyes right open."