HomeLifestyleHero’s Welcome: 97-Year-Old WWII Veteran Returns to Home Town After 40 Years

Hero’s Welcome: 97-Year-Old WWII Veteran Returns to Home Town After 40 Years

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The last time WWII veteran Cliff Stump visited his hometown of Adel, Iowa, was over 40 years ago. At that time, Stump returned to see his fellow Adel High School graduates for their 20-year class reunion. But Stump made another long overdue trip back this week, and he got a huge surprise when he arrived—a key to the city.

Mayor Jim Peters presented the war hero with the key during a ceremony.

“Cliff Stump, Adel High graduate of 1943, you grew up in Adel,” the mayor said. “And you joined the Army right out of high school.” But Stump corrected Mayor Peters and said he was actually drafted into WWII one month after he graduated.

A year after being drafted, Cliff Stump became of member of the famous 82nd airborne. And he fought in Normandy on D-day. Then he went on to another historic battle, the Battle of the Bulge, only six months later.

“As mayor of Adel, and a fellow veteran and fellow Adel alum, I would like to welcome you to Adel,” the mayor continued. “I welcome you back home.”

The veteran told reporters that being honored was “a pleasure.”

“It’s really nice,” he continued. “Nicest gift I’ve gotten so far.”

WWII Veteran Cliff Stump Tours Adel

After the ceremony, Stump went on a trip down memory lane as he toured Adel for the day.

Along the way, Stump visited the Adel Historical Museum. And he stopped to pay tribute to his fourth cousin, Iowa football star Nile Kinnick, who was the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner. Sadly, Kinnick was killed in combat during World War II.

Stump remembers playing with his cousin every summer as a kid. Kinnick would come home from the University of Iowa and let Stump and a friend tag along while he practiced kicking at his grandmother’s farm.

“I think his grandmother had this big house in the west part of town,” stump said. “He would come back to her place every summer. And a friend of mine, we would recover all of his balls. He would go out in that big yard and kick it back and forth and we would retrieve it for him and get it back to him all summer long.”

Stump, who is a major Hawkeye fan, also got to watch a live game at his cousin’s namesake field, Kinnick stadium on Saturday. And he stopped at the Dallas County Freedom Rock in Minburn. The rock commemorates local veterans Kinnick, Van Meter’s Bob Feller, and five fallen brothers from Dexter.

However, Cliff Stump’s name is not listed on the rock. But the proud, humble keyholder doesn’t mind.

“They were saving money, weren’t they?” Stump joked.