WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) — Joe Walters celebrates his 100th birthday with a round of golf at Westwood Golf Club in West Mifflin. Legally blind, the World War II veteran doesn’t let a little thing like heat get in his way.
“I’m impervious to heat,” he jokes. “When I go down below, I want to be prepared for it.”
One might say he’s already been there. Joe was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 shot down over Germany in 1943. He bailed out, just over the line in Belgium.
A father and his son rescued him from the apple tree where he landed. The Belgian underground hid him from the Nazis.
“When it was safe to go to the next place, then I would move and move; and then the people, the residents knew where the Germans were because places were occupied,” Walters says. “They knew when it was safe. If they were suspected of helping us, they just immediately shot them. There was no question. They immediately just put them to death.”
House by house he made it home.
The returning veteran was well known to mill workers and other residents of West Mifflin.
Operating what was then known as Joe Walters Bar for 56 years, he raised four children in the same building. He finally decided to retire and sell the bar at the age of 90.
The winner of a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross is matter of fact about it all.
“I was lucky I guess,” he says, “and I got back.”