Professor tells story of dying WWII veteran

Jason Scott, adjunct history professor, stands with his Florida Weekly article about a World War II veteran. Photo by Lianna Hubbard

A week after a FSW adjunct history professor published the story of a World War II veteran in Florida Weekly, the 96-year-old veteran passed away.

“Here’s an individual, and there are millions like him, who gave up anywhere from a year to five years of their lives,” Jason Scott said. “In my experience the older (veterans) get, the more willing they are to tell their stories. I think a lot of them want their story to be remembered.”

Gene Higham’s story of service was told by Scott in a front-page article on Jan. 22. A week after the article was published, Higham’s son called Scott and told him Higham was in the hospital. His son read Scott’s article to his father.

The article detailed Gene Higham’s World War II service as a tank driver and secretary for the battalion commander in the U.S. army, trekking across Europe.

“He kept a type-written journal of all his battalion’s movements. It wasn’t a diary; it was a very cut and dry explanation of what the battalion was doing and where they had been,” Scott said. “It’s eight to 10 pages, but there’s a story in between the lines.”

Scott gathered and wrote that story over six months of interviewing, document gathering, and editing. He plans to use the article as a teaching tool in his Modern American History class.

“In a long life, it’s just a few years. Your life is moving forward, it stops and then it restarts again when you come home,” Scott said. “It’s a major disruption in someone’s life, but they do it out of sacrifice.”

Lianna Hubbard

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