Survivor is a word often used to describe Claude Reagan. His "Tarzan swing" from the sinking SS Leopoldeville on Christmas Eve 1944 earned him that moniker for life.
After his military service in World War II, he returned to the states to farm. At one time he earned 50 cents a day.
In 1950 he joined the Navy Reserve and spent 19 months on active duty but he was never deployed to the war in Korea. Of his time in the Navy, Mr. Reagan said, "I was a good seaman."
He returned to Sevier County and worked for years at a paper company buying wood for pulp. He also continued to farm tobacco.
In addition to his on-camera interview about his daring escape from the SS Leopoldeville, hit by a German torpedo in the English Channel, Mr. Reagan took time to answer the following 10 questions about his life both in and out of the military.
1. What one person influenced you most in life?
My father. He is a man of his word and worked to support his family.
2. Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?
Yes, I do. Very much.
3. How can people thank you for your service?
Just by being a good citizen. Doing their duty as a citizen. Voting. Keeping informed.
4. How do you honor your fellow service men and women?
I live up to our code. I respect everybody that served the country in every war.
5. How do you think this generation of military men and women is different or similar to yours?
In some ways they are better qualified and better educated. They have more technology than we had.
We both done our jobs or tried to.
6. What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?
It made me appreciate liberty and freedom.
7. Does your family have a history of military service?
Yes. My father served in WWI. My brother in Korea and another brother served during Vietnam era.
8. Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?
Yes, if they were needed. It is a good career and you can help a lot of people.
9. How has your opinion of war changed?
It hasn't changed. There aren't any "good" wars. I think we may be over extended now. We can't police the whole world.
10. How did your military experience shape your faith?
It increased it tremendously.