FAYETTEVILLE — Veterans who gathered in Fayetteville to see the newAirborne and Special Operations Museumare mourning one of their own. A World War II hero passed away, just one day after seeing the museum honor his achievements and sacrifice.
Arnold "Dutch" Nagel, 78, was one of the few soldiers to survive four combat jumps in World War II. He died in Fayetteville early Thursday morning.
"If I could speak for Dutch, I'd say he went doing what he wanted to do," says Carl Beck, a World War II veteran. "It doesn't get much better than that."
Behind every name on the bricks in the museum's Memorial Garden is a story of war. Nagel's friends gathered there Thursday to remember him.
"It was a way of life. He really loved what he was doing," said World War II veteran Ed Manley.
Nagel came in from Ohio for themuseum's opening. He and his friends in the Return to Normandy Association took a commemorative jump Wednesday night.
His buddies say Nagel landed hard, but was OK. He went to the hospital Wednesday night in discomfort. It was there that he stopped breathing.
In his honor Thursday, his friends gathered at the museum one more time. The men say Nagel's death is a firsthand reminder that their generation is slipping away. The museum is the best method of keeping memories of Nagel, and other brave men, alive.
"We don't have much longer to go. We all know that," says Richard Mandich, the president of the Return to Normandy Association. "But, nevertheless, we want to have this continue on and people to have an appreciation of what we have in this country."
When Nagel landed in Normandy, he had his helmet shot off, took two prisoners and got shot in the leg. He will be returned to Ohio for a full military funeral.