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Brothers bound by WWII, Korean War service

For three years, the Navy was home for Joe, Elton and Wilton Price. Years later, their little brother, Percy Price, would serve in Korea with the Army.

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ZEBULON, N.C. — The Price brothers – Wilton, Elton, Joe and Percy – spent their lives on a Johnston County farm until duty called.

“It was a Sunday afternoon,” Wilton Price, 83, recalled. “(I) didn’t know there was such a place as Pearl Harbor.”

For three years during World War II,  the Navy was home for Joe, Elton and Wilton Price. Years later, their little brother, Percy Price, would serve in Korea with the Army.

Joe and Wilton Price served in the South Pacific. Elton Price, too, was stationed in Okinawa after he helped secure the beaches at Normandy.

“Every third bullet was a tracer you could see, and they were flying everywhere,” Elton Price, 85, remembered. “We were all just young men and nervous and scared. I was just happy to get back safe and sound.”

Percy Price, now 79, said his family back home constantly thought about those so far away.

“You worried about your brothers, if they’ll come home,” he said.

Separation was hard for everyone.

One day, Wilton Price spotted Joe's ship in a South Pacific harbor. The two had not communicated in a while and he wasn't sure his brother was even alive. Wilton Price was granted permission by his captain to board the ship to see his older brother, who was in the ship’s hospital.

“I went aboard. You always saluted the flag and the officer of the day. I told him who I was, what my business was. I asked to see Joe. He took me down to where he was, and I tapped him on the shoulder. It was a happy time,” a tearful Wilton Price said.

The Price family has hung on to memories of the war. While some bring laughter, others are sobering, like a letter Elton Price’s wrote the night World War II ended.

“I am so grateful and thank God for this day,” the letter read. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

“People refer to us as heroes, and perhaps we were, but I always try to say the heroes were back home,” Joe Price, 89, said. “They were buying war bonds. They were doing this and they were doing that to support us. The people back here were the heroes.”

The brothers still serve, whether it’s the VFW Honor Guard or the National Guard.

WRAL is partnering with the Flight of Honor program to provide a very special trip for veterans of World War II. The Flight of Honor program gives veterans an opportunity to travel in groups on a commercial, chartered flight for a day trip to visit the World War II Memorial erected in their honor in Washington, D.C. The next trip is April 6.


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