Corporal Thomas Rollins, a World War II veteran, recently spoke to the Kindergarten and first grade classes at Swiss Memorial Elementary School. Rollins shared the greatest lessons he learned from his wartime experiences with the students including discipline and obedience. He encouraged the students to listen to their parents and teachers because of their own well-being and safety. He also asked the children to be loyal, faithful, honest, and treat everyone with respect.
Rollins said that the soldiers of World War II were called the “Greatest Generation,” but he prefers not to be called that – he believes every generation can be the greatest if they live their lives with dignity, honor, fairness, and love and respect for others.
“Life is what you make it,” said Rollins. “Don’t expect others to do for you what you can do for yourself.”
Rollins was drafted as a teenager. After basic training, he boarded the Queen Elizabeth, was transported to Europe, and joined one million other soldiers. Along the way, Germans attacked their ship by setting of depth charges.
“The Germans were notorious for using submarines to set off these depth charges during the war,” said Rollins.
Rollins was a U.S. Army Cannoneer. His expertise focused on shooting a six-ton gun with a range of 15 miles. It could shoot 1,500 to 2,000 rounds of ammunition per minute.
Rollins says because of his service, and the service of others, we have “freedom in these great United States.” He continues to feel sadness over the loss of comrades and remembers his homesickness for his family, sleeping in foxholes and old buildings for long periods of time, and always being alert for the enemy.
“It was all worth it to give the American people their freedom,” Rollins told the students.
Rollins visit to the school was organized by Kimberly McBee.