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World War II veteran Ray Wagner

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Ray Wagner pauses while holding a gun similar to the one he used in World War II. Wagner, 87, of Hamilton, enlisted in the Army infantry in 1941 at age 17. Military service was a tradition in Wagner’s family. His father served in the cavalry in World War I and his great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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World War II veteran Ray Wagner Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Ray Wagner stands with a gun similar to the one he used in World War II in Sunset Meadows II in Craig, where he has an apartment. Wagner, 87, who hails from Hamilton, was a sniper in Casablanca during the war and also cleared landmines. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Ray Wagner sights down the barrel of a gun often used in World War II. His first combat experience overseas was setting and detonating dynamite around bunkers where enemy troops slept on the shore of North Africa. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Ray Wagner shows the decorations he received during his military career. Wagner earned three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts and a Presidential Citation of Valor during his time in the service. He is eligible to receive a Silver Star for his attack on a German patrol in Italy during World War II, but he rejected the medal because all six of his men were killed in the attack. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Ray Wagner looks at newspaper clippings detailing his service in World War II at his apartment in Sunset Meadows II. Wagner, 87, who also has a home in Hamilton, fought German forces during the war, even though his great-grandfather emigrated from Germany and there were members of his family living in the country when the conflict broke out. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Hamilton resident Ray Wagner holds a gun commonly used in World War II. Wagner “always had mixed up thoughts” about the war while he was in the service, he said, because part of his family was still living in Germany when the war began. The last thing his grandfather told Wagner before he went overseas was “’Don’t shoot none of our people,’” Wagner said. Photo by Michelle Balleck

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Ray Wagner, a highly decorated World War II veteran, didn’t harbor animosity for the enemy while he was serving abroad in Europe. “They drew a bad picture of the German army,” he said. “They made them look like something terrible, but they were men, just like us.” Photo by Michelle Balleck

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This is a service picture of Ray Wagner as a teenager, taken shortly before being deployed to North Africa. Courtesy photo

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Ray Wagner, of Hamilton, diffuses a mine in Italy during World War II. The photo originally ran in a military publication during the war. Courtesy photo

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Ray Wagner, middle, poses for this photo with soldiers from his unit in Italy during World War II. The photo originally ran in a military publication after Wagner’s unit liberated an Italian village. Courtesy photo

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Ray Wagner, near, helps train soldiers on defusing mines during World War II. Wagner spent nearly six months retrieving bodies of fallen soldiers that were often booby trapped and surrounded by mines. Courtesy photo

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