RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — At the Virginia War Memorial, you’ll find war heroes on the walls and in display cases.
You’ll also find one sitting at the front desk. One of four sons who served in the military, Russell Scott, was in the Army Air Corps.
He was born in Richmond and still lives in Central Virginia — volunteering regularly at the Virginia War Memorial to share his war stories with visitors and fellow veterans.
It was more than seven decades ago that Scott served as a tailgunner on a B-25 airplane during World War II.
He arrived in Corsica, Italy on May 18, 1944 — and just a week later, his plane was shot on one of its first missions.
Despite never training how to jump out of an airplane, he had a decision to make.
“I sat there for a few minutes,” Scott said. “I said, ‘well gotta go.'”
He was forced to parachute from the plane at 9,000 feet, making a rough landing and breaking his back in the process.
Scott was picked up by the Germans, transported across Europe, interrogated, placed in solitary confinement, and about a month later, ended up at a Prisoner of War camp in Poland.
But with a broken back and few resources, he wore a corset for two months.
Looking back he says he would’ve worn the make-shift brace forever, if not for a fellow prisoner in need.
“Another boy came in and he was worse off than I was,” Russell said. “His foot was dragging, but his back was broken just like mine. So I gave him the corset.”
Now at 97-years-old, though using a walker from that back injury so many years ago, he still has the ability to speak candidly about his past.
He is animated as he tells the story of using old metal cans to teach his fellow prisoners how to making stove pipes.
His quick thinking allowed hundreds of prisoners the opportunity to cook from their compound in Poland — and he tells the story as if it were yesterday.
“I been working here as a volunteer for about 14-years and I tell this story everyday,” Scott said.
The plane hanging in the lobby of the museum is even a replica of this WWII veteran’s aircraft, with a miniature 3-D printed replica of him sitting on the back.
So on your next trip to the War Memorial in Richmond, say hello to Russell Scott. He doesn’t plan on leaving his post anytime soon.
“If I live to be 100 and I can still walk, I’ll be here,” Scott said.