Re: “Maine woman resisted the Nazis on beat-up old bicycle” (June 8), about the Allied veteran who is eligible for certain U.S. veterans benefits:

I graduated from Cheverus High School on June 6, 1942, and left the stage at City Hall and proceeded to the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary where an operation was performed so I could qualify for the Navy. Two months later, I was sworn into the Navy along with my father, to be followed by my sister, who enlisted in the WAVES.

I spent 30 months in the Pacific aboard the USS Izard (DD-589). We earned 12 Battle Stars. As a result of all of our shore bombardments, I am almost totally deaf in one ear. In the ’50s, I tried to get help but was turned down.

I am a few months from 90. Many of us had post-traumatic stress disorder, but it wasn’t recognized then. On occasion I can still see the Japanese kamikaze hurtling out of the sky trying to kill us. We were lucky they missed. In all our battles, we were lucky – all around, men were being killed, but we kept sailing along.

My last major memories of the war were seeing the American flag high above Mount Suribachi and the saddest part – seeing the over 6,000 white crosses and Stars of David in the Iwo Jima cemetery. Later, they were brought to the U.S.

It is great what they’re doing for our Allied veterans, but what about the other World War II veterans? If you weren’t wounded or disabled, you are treated like a second-class citizen. Many of us, along with our spouses, worked hard and saved a little money and are not eligible for senior housing, etc.

It’s still great to be an American, and I’m proud of my family’s service to our great country.

W.O. “Bill” Gardner

veteran, World War II and Korean War Portland