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100-year-old Upstate WWII veteran talks of Independence Day meaning

WW II US Army Uniform with Medals

Photo: Getty Images

PIEDMONT, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - 100-year-old Upstate WWII veteran talks about what Independence Day means to him

Clifford Dill of Piedmont says for him, July 4th is now about celebrating the little things. But he always holds a special place in his heart for the holiday because of the sacrifices he's made.

“A number of people come up and introduce themselves, and tell me they’ve seen me on my 100th birthday,” said Upstate WWII veteran Clifford Dill.

Ever since Clifford decided to open up to us about his experience fighting for his country in WWII on his 100th birthday, he says it happens all the time.

“They can’t get over me looking as good as I look,” he joked.

The local legend is an army veteran from right here in the Upstate, who says he never could have dreamed where his service would take him. He adds--those moments resurface more easily on a day like July 4th.

“It brings back memories,” the former private first class said. “Memories of Luxemburg, of Germany, that we were fighting there.”

Clifford’s service resume is as distinguished as his wise age. A decorated infantryman with the army, he served in the 331st regiment of the 83rd “Thunderbolt” division, nicknamed so because of the thousands of miles they trekked in just a handful of months, battling the Germans back from France across Europe until V-E Day.

During his time, Clifford received the Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds he sustained during the Ardennes Forest campaign, the Bronze Star for bravery, and the Good Conduct Medal. He also fought on one of the bloodiest beaches, Omaha, during the famous Allied landing on D-Day in June of 1944.

He says many of his brothers in arms were killed in action, and others are sadly no longer with us in 2022.

“Especially on a day like today [July 4th], do you ever wonder why you were maybe one of the lucky ones who made it back home, and lived to this point to tell your story?” FOX Carolina’s Matt Kaufax asked.

“I’ve wondered that since the day I got of the army,” Clifford responded.

Clifford says he and his fellow servicemen didn’t have much time to celebrate Independence Day overseas in the thick of war, so July 4th is something he’ll never take for granted.

“We watched each one another’s backs,” he said.

And as he sat July 4th afternoon with his family on the soil he fought to protect, he told FOX Carolina: the true meaning a a day like Independence Day started to sink in.

“I’m here. And I’m with my family and friends. And that means a whole lot to me,” said Clifford.

He also tells us--he’s not worried about what his 101st year, or 105th, or 110th, will bring. He says what matters is he’s found his peace of mind, and a love with his family he’ll hold onto forever.

“You 101st is coming up pretty soon. Are you excited about it?” asked FOX Carolina’s Matt Kaufax.

“You know, I’ve thought about that,” Clifford said. “When it comes, it’ll be here, and that’s it.”

Clifford and his family say they’re planning a big birthday bash this October. And while he admits it’ll be hard to top the reception he got for 100 years, Dill says he has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

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