PANAMA CITY -- When he walked into Granny Cantrell's for his usual Wednesday morning breakfast, World War II veteran Charles Humphries was in for a surprise.
Humphries, 93, was honored on behalf of the National Timberwolf Pups Association, a group of children and other loved ones who pay tribute to World War II veterans who served in the 104th Infantry "Timberwolf" Division. Humphries, one of many U.S. Army troops who served in the 104th, was given memorabilia -- including challenge coins, a hat and book about the Timberwolves -- by his friend and fellow veteran Warren Brookhart.
"I'm totally surprised and charmed," said Humphries, who meets other veterans for breakfast most Wednesday mornings at the Panama City restaurant. "I didn't choose to be in the Timberwolves. They put me there. ... I was assigned to a machine gun unit. The machine gun made a lot more noise than I did."
The Timberwolves were activated in 1942, in combat for 200 days and served missions throughout Europe, according to Army records. They also helped victims at a German concentration camp, according to other records. Humphries said in a 2016 interview with The News Herald he served in the Army for about 2 1/2 years, from 1943 to 1945.
Although he underwent heavy artillery fire, being targeted by snipers and even suffered a collapsed lung, he escaped World War II with no major injuries.
Brookhart, who also usually attends the Wednesday breakfasts, arranged the presentation after talking to Humphries about his service in the 104th. Brookhart reached out to the Pups Association and said the 104th has an "unbelievable history."
Humphries' caregiver, Susie Skaggs, said he's remarkable for his age since he can outwalk her when they go grocery shopping, while his daughter Peggy Edwards said she was happy for her father.
"He's very proud of the Timberwolves. He would always tell us stories, not of the bad things," Edwards said. "He's just a fabulous father and always there to guide us. He gave us strong morals."
Congressman Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, wasn't able to make the ceremony because he was in Washington, D.C., but sent his regional director, Olivia Crosby, to read a letter of appreciation on his behalf. Dunn is an Army veteran and often handles veteran-related legislation.
"Congratulations on the recognition you are receiving on this special day," Dunn wrote in the letter. "It has always been a special honor to spend time with you and all the Purple Heart recipients that gather at Granny Cantrell's on Wednesday mornings. The history and legacy of the 104th Timberwolf Infantry Division is legendary. ... Charlie, your nation owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude."
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