NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Private First Class Luther Mann is part of the approximately 1% of WWII American veterans still alive today, and the Bellevue community showed his sacrifice was cause for celebration on Veterans Day.

Mann joined George Patton’s 3rd Army in 1944 at 19 years old. He headed to France and eventually crossed over into Germany where he and two other surviving men were captured by the enemy.

After being interrogated, locked in barns and houses, and being part of long hauls of convoys of German troops, Mann and the other men escaped during an air raid while everyone else was hunkered down, and they hid in a nearby cave.

They were then recaptured while attempting to reunite with the American troops but eventually were freed by Patton’s 3rd Army.

Mann is the last surviving member of his platoon at 97 years old.

“He doesn’t really bring up (his experience),” Mann’s niece, Amy Walls said. “People ask (about it), so it kind of feels like he thinks maybe it’s not that big of a deal when really it was a big deal. He was just doing what he’s supposed to do for his country.”

The Bellevue Community Foundation and Nashville city leaders joined Mann, his nieces, his sister and the public in a celebration and parade in his honor on Veterans Day.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper presented Mann with a proclamation thanking him for his sacrifice during the event.

“Because of World War II, the planet has had an unparalleled level of security and prosperity that it never really had before, and that was earned on the sweat and the labor and the blood of everyone who served,” Cooper said.

Mann’s nieces told News 2 they only recently learned most of the details of their uncle’s experience serving in WWII.

“It was awe-inspiring,” Becky Breedlove, Mann’s niece said. “It was pretty incredible to see what he did being so young. He was 19 and 20, which seems like a young, young person to me to do that kind of thing.”

Mann returned from the war to America on Mother’s Day, 1945.

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Out of the 180 men in E-Company captured at the Siegfried Line battle, he was one of 52 people still alive.