This is part of an ongoing series featuring veterans who live in the Tri-Cities Region. If you know a veteran whose story needs to be told, nominate them HERE.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Visit the courtyard outside Brookdale Johnson City Assisted Living Community on a sunny day and you’ll likely find Tab Torbett eyeing the plants.

The 100-year-old resident and former greenhouse owner still has a green thumb. And he still has all his memories of his remarkable three years of service in the United States Army during World War II.

“I was working as an electrician when the letter came in the mail,” Torbett remembered.

After learning he’d been drafted, Torbett came home to Piney Flats, ate big lunch with his family, and got on a train headed to basic training.

Tab Torbett is one of the few surviving members of “the greatest generation” from World War II.

Torbett was assigned to the 102nd Infantry Division. He landed in Le Havre, France just days after the Normandy invasion.

Right away, he was assigned to a unit moving powerful Howitzer guns and routinely had to dodge enemy fire.

“If it got pretty hot from the Germans, we’d have to move and get in another position and go from there and keep doing what we had to do – just keep firing on the enemy,” Torbett said.

Torbett served three years in the 101st Infantry Division. He still recalls the horrors of death on the battlefield.

Torbett was part of the legendary Red Ball Express moving equipment across Europe to the advancing front line and chasing the retreating German Army all the way to the Battle of the Bulge.

Time has taken a lot from Torbett, but it hasn’t erased his memory of the horrors he witnessed firsthand.

In vivid detail, he recalls finding a burned barn filled with dead prisoners locked inside by German troops who set fire to the building.

“You could see where they tried to dig out from under the door, and they shot them and killed them,” he said. “It was awful what we saw over there. Awful.”

Tab Torbett shares his memories of service during World War II.

Once in Germany, Torbett guarded German prisoners. Despite spending years in battle and witnessing the atrocities of Nazi troops, he found a connection with his peers on the other side of the battlelines

“They said, ‘We didn’t want to go in the service in the first place,'” Torbett said. “And they said, ‘We want out just like you do.’ They wanted to be free. We were nice to them, and they were nice as could be to us.”

Almost 80 years later, Tab Torbett says he’s able to look back at his service during World War II with pride and gratitude.

“I really appreciate it to be a veteran, to defend our country. I’m very proud to be a USA veteran.”