WICHITA, Kan. (ABC News) — As we honor all of our veterans, the men and women who have served this country, here’s the story of a World War II veteran, who calls himself the “luckiest man in the world.”
From Kansas, he’s the youngest of nine children. He returned from the war with a wish.
Sergeant Freddy Simon joined the army just six days after graduating from high school in June, 1943 during World War II, leaving his Kansas family farm, and his family right there in the middle between mom and dad.
He did his basic training at Fort Riley 1st cavalry division. Simon was a rifleman, who helped liberate parts of the Pacific Rim, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart too.
“A Japanese artillery shell fell not too far from me and knocked me to the ground,” Simon said. “I lost several good buddies but I survived. I just went to the medics and went back into combat. Coming home was about the best thing in the world.”
Settling in Wichita, he earned an accounting degree, and built a family but, put one dream on hold: He always wanted to open a burger shop.
“Yes, it was a lifelong dream just to have my own restaurant,” Simon said.
His sons, Randy and Bill, were determined to make their dad’s dream come true.
“He just kept desiring to open a burger joint,” Randy and Bill explained.
They planned it themselves, approached him, and told him it will be called Freddy’s.
“I thought it was wonderful because they named it after me,” Simon said laughing.
Simon now goes table to table every day, checking in on his customers, whom many of them are veterans too.
Now 91-years-old, Simon is seeing his family business boom, with more than 100 restaurants in 30 states.
“I don’t believe he’s had any enemies since the war,” said Randy and Bill. “I think he’s only made friends.”
Simon says he feels grateful. “That’s my story, I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he adds.