LOUISVILLE, Colo. – Ralph and Velora Halgren have been sharing their love story for 72 years. Well, at least Velora does.
“She does the talking for us. I let her,” Ralph said with a grin.
Ralph joined the Navy during WWII, just after his 18th birthday. He says he traveled overseas and performed search-and-rescue efforts. He didn’t care where he was sent. He just went where he was told.
At that point, Velora was still in high school, and the couple didn’t know each other. Wanting to help out herself, Velora volunteered for the Red Cross and worked in hospitals. She also started to writing to soldiers on the front lines.
“Mail was very important,” she remembers the guys she corresponded with telling her. “I would get letters, then they would say, "One buddy of mine doesn’t get many letters. Please write to him." And it would just kind of snowball. "Sure, I'll write. Of course!"”
While Velora was writing letters, Ralph was sent to the Philippines.
"I eventually went to Manila. I was sent to Palawan. I was there for a year and helped decommission the base," he recalled.
The month-long Battle of Manila resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians and completely devastated the city. And while Ralph does not go into detail, prisoners of war were burned alive during the Palawan Massacre. He says images from his time there continue to haunt him.
But things changed after Ralph returned to the states and went to a dance Velora was attending with a friend.
“I had a beer that I didn't want. And I gave it to him. And he thought, "Wow, this is a girl to date. She lets me drink her beer,"" Velora said of the night they met.
Ralph gave Velora and her friend a ride home that night, but it was Velora he kept calling. The two have stuck together ever since, enjoy their nightly drinks.
"Now we have one martini a day before dinner,” Ralph said.
One drink a day the couple says has kept them a live and happy for 72 years.
Ralph is one of the veterans being honored at the Memorial Day tribute at the conclusion of the BOLDERBoulder Monday. You can watch that tribute, which is hosted by Denver7 Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson, on Denver7 Monday at noon. To register for the BOLDERBoulder, click here.