HOUSTON - Robert Paschal grew up in Corsicana, dreaming of one day being a pilot in the Air Force. When he turned 18, he enlisted and was drafted for World War II. While he didn't become a pilot, he did fly on 20 missions as an armament gunner.
"I thought the best thing I could do was do whatever I could to get the war over with," Paschal said. "I was very young, and even though there were times I got very scared of maybe getting killed, you got over it quickly."
Now at 92 years old, Paschal said he understood the weight he carried as a bomber.
"We were taught to not like those people," Paschal said of the Nazis. "We could think of the atrocities of their prison camps and things like that and it was pretty easy to hate them. That took the edge off dropping the bombs all together."
On Memorial Day, Paschal honors those that have served.
"It means a lot more to me now than it did before the war. I have a great deal of respect for all the guys who served and what they did. I never forget there's a lot that did a whole lot more than I did and gave a whole lot more than I did. I look at what I did as just a drop in the bucket," said Paschal.
Paschal said when people come up to him and say thanks for his service, he likes to point to the work of the Honor Flight Houston group.
"Honor Flight knows how to say thank you for your service. They put together a program whereby they carry 35-40 veterans to Washington, D.C. for a two-day trip. They go to all the memorials, every one of them, and usually to a museum. It's a great organization of young people," said Paschal.
Following the war, Paschal attended college with the help of the G.I. Bill.
He married shortly after the war, and then started a career in the oil industry.