SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — 97-year-old Sumter County resident Frederick Huth is being honored today for Veterans Day.
When he was a sophomore in high school, Huth tried to go into the Navy. After realizing he had dental issues, however, he was told he couldn't serve.
"I didn’t have enough teeth in my mouth," he said laughing. "I said I don’t want to bite them, I want to fight them!"
Just a few years later, he was drafted for World War II. He was responsible for the Navy’s communications equipment at a shore station on the North Carolina/Virginia line.
"I don’t recall being afraid," Huth said. "I don’t recall until after I came out of the Navy when I was discharged in '46, I thought about wasted time."
Now, he’s making up for that time in Sumter County.
"It enabled me to do the preaching that I’ve been doing for the last 75 years," Huth said. "I’ve started churches in Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina."
For years, Huth says he wouldn’t wear any clothing to show he was a veteran.
"I just didn’t feel that I should attract attention. Because who am I?" he asked. "I don’t have a building named after me, I don’t have a city named after me, a road. I’ve done nothing great as far as human life is concerned."
Then, he realized it was a conversation starter. When people would come up and ask him about his service, he would tell them about his faith.
"I didn’t want to attract attention to myself, but I learned a lesson. That if I wore my cap, people would see it, they would thank me for my service, ask a question: ‘What’d you do? When’d you do it? Where’d you do it?” Huth said. "When I answered all their questions, I’d come back and I’d say 'Now I have a question for you…where are you going when you die?"
That question opened the door for him to talk about his religion, Huth tells me.
"That’s what I do on the streets today. Restaurant, store, wherever I go," he shared. "I’m doing more preaching on the street than I’m doing in church!"
At 97 years old, Huth plans to keep up the work.
"I have a reputation of being, possibly even today, the oldest one in [this] community," Huth said. "Until the Lord takes me home, as long as I’m able to, I’m going to keep on preaching."