Two WWII heroes who spent lives serving others turn 90


Posted on February 5, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 7:21 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- Donald Duffy turned 90 years old on Wednesday. His friend John Lehman turns 90 in September, and they were treated as heroes.

"I don't look on myself as a hero, no," Lehman answered.

Duffy and Lehman signed up to fight in World War II at age 17. Lehman joined the Navy.

"I was just out in the Pacific most of the time, roaming around, dropping off new airplanes at these little tiny stations," Lehman said.

Duffy joined the Army and was given three Purple Hearts for his wounds.

"Mortars were being thrown at us, and I thought to myself, what am I doing here? I'm no soldier. And in my ear, I heard a voice say, 'Do your duty,'" Duffy said.

After the war, they went from fighting for freedom to saving souls, when Father Duffy and Father Lehman were ordained as Catholic priests in the 1950s.

"Then I needed to always spread the faith, always be a good Catholic, and a Catholic who wants to bring the faith to others," Duffy said.

Lehman became an Air Force chaplain, even serving at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station.

"I thought it was my duty to go in and take care of the boys, you know," Lehman said.

There's a special birthday celebration, a mass this Sunday. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be there, and it takes place at St. Anthony Church in Lafitte where both priests have great memories of the people they served as pastor.

"I think it's one of the best places I've ever been in," Duffy said.

"They're the most wonderful people I've met in all the world, because they're kind and generous, and they like to party," Lehman said with a laugh.