Local WWII veteran helped his fellow soldiers during and after the war - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

TYLER (KLTV)

Local WWII veteran helped his fellow soldiers during and after the war

Nearly one thousand World War II veterans die each year in the United States, and sadly, one of East Texas' own heroes passed away this weekend. Leon St. Pierre died Saturday at the age of 83. Today, KLTV 7's Layron Livingston sat down with family members who could not think of a more perfect time for this perfect soldier to leave a lasting legacy.

War hero and patriot.

"I will miss him....he was a fantastic person," said Hilda St. Pierre.

Hilda remembers her husband as a devoted father, a man who loved collecting rocks, and caring for blueberries, of all things.

"Some people have flowers in their yard...I have blueberry bushes," said Hilda.

"We called him Pepe," said Andrew Tyner, his grandson.

It's just another name for Grandpa.

"He experienced so much in his life. He was always someone we could count on to talk to on any subject," said Andrew.

Brenda Tyner called her dad a true veteran.

"He was there in Europe before he was old enough to go to the front lines," said Brenda. "They had him work as a mail carrier for the troops, and literally, as soon as he was old enough to got to the front lines, he was on the front lines."

After basic training, of course - right up the road at Camp Fannin.  A machine gun squadron leader in the 99th Infantry, St. Pierre would later help the Allied forces in their victory in the Battle of the Bulge - a serviceman on the war front and on the home front.

"His heart and soul was in disabled American veterans," said Hilda.

Fittingly, St. Pierre became the first president of the Camp Fannin Association, integral in placing the memorial which now stands in honor of all of the Fannin trainees who served and sacrificed for their country.

From now on, Veterans Day will have an even more special meaning for this family.

"I'm very proud of him...because he put his whole life in doing things for others," said Hilda.

"I think it's a perfect ending," said Brenda.

Leon St. Pierre will be laid to rest tomorrow - Veterans Day. the service begins at 1:00 pm at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com

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