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Hometown Hero says helping others helps him

DANVILLE -- He escaped from a German prison more than 60-years ago, but nowadays this veteran is using his story to motivate others.
DANVILLE -- He escaped from a German prison more than 60-years ago, but nowadays this veteran is using his story to motivate others. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield introduces us to this Hometown Hero.

Charlie Dukes has spoken at schools, colleges and even volunteers. But, it's this book which has had the biggest impact.

"I'm not a hero. I'm a survivor."

But, if you talk to Dukes or read his book, you'll find out he's both.

"We had to eliminate the enemy before he eliminated us. It was that simple."

That was his plan to escape a German prison in 1944. He was in the army during World War II. But, after only being on the front lines a short time, he got ambushed and stayed there six months.

"We got to talking, 'how are we going to get back to America alive?' We decided, right then to kill every darn German we could see."

Starved and weak, Dukes escaped. He got attacked one night and didn't think he'd make it.

"I'm laying there in that ditch and I can't move. I said I would say a simple prayer. If the good Lord will let me stay alive, I'll say good morning for the rest of my life. He kept His word, I kept mine."

For his service, Dukes has a purple heart and tons of awards. But, Dukes says, since that night nearly 70-yaers ago, he hadn't slept without having a nightmare.

"When I wrote the book, the nightmares ended."

Dukes says the real reward isn't just ending his own nightmares, but helping others have a good morning.

"Never give up, just keep going. I still have people come to me and thank me for the book. I feel like it's done well for a lot of people."

Dukes has sold nearly 6,000 copies of his book. He and his wife also make time to volunteer at the VA hospital. They also just closed a museum they had in their home full of war memorabilia.
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