Well-known WWII veteran from Rockingham County passes away

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- Amy Walton is remembering her father Sergeant Damon Conrad Alberty.

"Besides being my father, my daddy, he'll always be a hero," Walton said. "I think of daddy as this fun man who had this great sense of humor.”

A loving family man and a decorated World War II veteran is also how Walton describes her father who fought to stay alive after months of severe breathing problems and a battle with pneumonia.

Alberty died Sunday at 91.

"That survivor inside of him still wanted to live, "she said.

Walton says that fighting spirit helped her father survive nearly four years of brutality as a prisoner of war from 1942 to 1945.

"The conditions were beyond anyone's imagination," Walton said.

Alberty was one of thousands of soldiers who walked more than 60 miles to death camps in the Philippines, a march now known as the Bataan Death March.

He survived on little food and water as thousands of other soldiers died from malnutrition.

"He was determined that he was going to live," Walton said.

He was also determined to share his story.

Alberty visited schools, churches, and college campuses to talk about the brutalities he faced.

"He had a real mission, to share with the people the price that comes with freedom," she said.

Many of those stories have made an impact on future generations.

"Even if you're in the most grim of conditions and you think you'll never survive, you can and you will,” said Rhett Walton, Alberty’s grandson.

"He was a fighter up until the very end," Amy said.

Funeral services for Damon Conrad Alberty will be held on Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. at Mayodan Moravian Church.