BOISE -- "We were kids then," said Melvin Lagoon, sitting in his Boise home Sunday.
'Kids' is how Lagoon describes himself, and most of his fellow soldiers that fought in the cold and snow of the Battle of the Bulge, about 70 years ago.
"We took quite a beating in the Battle of the Bulge when we were there," said Lagoon. "So, we had a lot to be thankful for too to be able to be alive."
Belgians, also had a lot to be thankful for, as those kids helped liberate their country from the Nazis.
"You can't imagine what it's like to live under those conditions," said Lagoon.
But, Melvin didn't know how thankful the people of Belgium were, and are, until he took the trip of a lifetime. Two weeks ago, he returned there, for the first time since the war. "It brought back a lot of memories."
Melvin was welcomed as a returning hero, because he is. The people here talked about how he and the 17th Airborne preserved their way of life.
"Everybody in town is giving you a salute, or congratulating you," said Melvin. "We never thought we'd ever get that recognition."
He was given several medals at several different ceremonies. He was honored in the Dead Man's Ridge Walk, which recreates the same march Melvin took in the war. At the Luxembourg Cemetery, he laid 36 roses on graves of other soldiers in the 17th Airborne, who made the ultimate sacrifice. That included a commanding officer who was killed in combat the same day the officer learned his wife was pregnant with their daughter back home. That daughter is now 67, and wrote a letter to her father for one ceremony.
"They had me read the letter that the daughter had written to her dad, wishing that she could've had the chance to know him personally, and how much she missed him," said Melvin. "That was one of the best, most important parts for me."
So, how does a man feel when people he's never met thank him, along with his fallen comrades, for saving their home 70 years ago?
Melvin responded, "Proud to be a serviceman... You just can't put it into words."
In all, Melvin spent 12 days in Europe, traveling to France and Germany, along with Belgium. His daughters and son were able to go with him on the trip, an experience they all cherish together.