Dunedin, Florida — At age 97, Joe Hall walked into Causeway Alterations and asked if someone could make him a Navy uniform. In his younger years, Hall served in World War II as a Navy Petty Officer First Class.
“I love the uniform. I love my country and I’m so happy I was able to serve,” he said.
He was on a destroyer escort, where he made some of the best friends of his life — and lost a few, too. They’re all gone now, which is why Joe wanted that uniform — for when he sees them again.
Susan Williams, the seamstress who assisted Hall, was moved by his request.
“I made everything from underwear to wedding dresses, but to have a World War II veteran come in and say, ‘I want to be buried in my uniform.’ I was like, ‘This man is not leaving this store without me making this uniform because it’s the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life,'” Williams said. “And it became a strong obsession of mine to make it right.”
For the next three weeks, Williams poured herself into the project, binding every seam, adding satin-lined cuffs and making buttonholes by hand. She spent at least 100 hours and charged almost nothing.
Hall received the uniform a few months ago, but came back to the store to try it on again at CBS News’ request.
“I feel like I’m back in the service,” he said, describing the uniform as “beautiful.”
Even though he wanted this for his death, one gets the sense that, now, it’s what he lives for.
“I wanted to be with my friends, be a part of them. And this uniform kind of brings them close to me, you know,” Hall said.