FAIRBORN — Herman Holt is a man of many talents.
At 100 years old, he is a father, bluegrass guitarist, and a clogger. He is also a retired United States Army sergeant, and a veteran of the Second World War.
On Nov. 11, during Fairborn’s Veterans Day ceremony, residents eagerly gathered around him to offer thanks, prayers, and well wishes for his service.
Holt’s daughters describe him as a social butterfly. His daughter, Rita Dryden, said, “If there’s a party, he wants to be there.”
However, amidst all the hubbub, the centenarian remained reserved and humble regarding praise for his military service.
Holt was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, and got his start at Camp Breckenridge in Kentucky. He served in France, Italy, and Germany, fought uphill in the Battle of the Bulge, and in the invasion of Normandy.
“I tried not to use mine as much as possible,” Holt said of the M1 Garand rifle he carried into the fray.
Holt recalled the moment he learned that World War II had ended. His commander called everyone together, and informed the unit that the war was over. No one believed it.
“They thought it was a setup,” Dryden said. “The Germans would try to fool them with these false messages.”
After the war, Holt moved with his family to Fairborn in 1958, where he built their family house by hand. In the following years, Holt played bluegrass guitar and bass fiddle with local groups, and was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, according to his daughters. He says he does not often interact with current active duty military, but he has performed bluegrass for soldiers at military installations over the years.
Holt recently moved back to Fairborn and has lived there for the past five to six years. He was honored Wednesday during the Fairborn VFW’s Veterans Day ceremony at the flagpole in the center of town. VFW Honor Guard members presented him with the shells fired during the three-volley salute at 11 a.m. that morning.
Holt is approaching another milestone this year, and will celebrate his 101st birthday on Dec. 12.
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