98-year-old vet born on Sept. 11 says terror attacks changed outlook on life

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Eugene Polinsky's birthday was a cause for celebration for 80 years. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

A decorated World War Two fighter pilot, Polinsky was born on Sept. 11 in 1920.

The terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives in 2001 left the Grandview resident in no mood to celebrate his birthday.

His son still wanted to cheer his father up, so he got him a favorite meal.

"He went out and got a pastrami sandwich," Polinsky says, "and that was my birthday party that Sept. 11."

It's been a low key affair ever since. In fact, Polinsky no longer celebrates his birthday on the 11th, but on the 10th, or in the days following.

At 23 years old, Polinksy was a part of a secret wartime special operations group called the Carpet Baggers. They flew night missions over Belgium. The group's last mission freed the city of Antwerp from the Nazis.

Last year, Polinsky received a Congressional medal for his work with the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS.

The war hero's outlook on life changed when America was attacked.

"I will never forget what happened," he said. "How can I? It's my birthday."

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