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clock May 30, 2005 5:14 pm US/Central

Empire Carpet Man Reveals Heroic War Service

VIDEO: Jon Duncanson reports.

(CBS 2) EVANSTON You know him from his television commercials, but the Empire Carpet Man is also a World War II veteran. As CBS 2's Jon Duncanson reports, his service involved a journey that saved lives and made history.

He could be just a man watching video tape of a retirement vacation.

�This is in Kongming airport, where we were greeted by the television cameras and surprised,� war veteran Lynn Hauldren explained. �And I remember this part of the world being so beautiful.�

But for Lynn Hauldren of Evanston the March trip to China was a homecoming. �I promised myself when I got back I'd go back,� he said. �So it took me 60 years, but I finally got back.�

Hauldren looks familiar to many who would recognize him as the longtime pitchman for a local carpet company, but many don�t know that as a 23-year-old radio operator he volunteered to answer the call to deliver supplies to Chinese port cities starving from a Japanese naval blockade.

To get there, 100 truckloads drove over 1,500 miles down dusty trails from India down the Burma Road to China. �Y�know you're driving along that road and you got one eye on the road and one eye on the sky because the zeros were up there,� Hauldren said. �We got hit a couple of times.�

In the photos of his recent trip the trail is still there and the indigenous people were not much changed, but 60 years ago American forces supplying the Chinese ports were successful. And 60 years later, the Empire Carpet man found that the Chinese whose parents� and grandparents� lives he helped save before they were born, didn't forget.

�[We] Walked into the terminal. Here's all these people cheering and flowers and television cameras and we thought there must be some bigwigs on the plane. Turned out we were the bigwigs,� he said.

Lynn Hauldren still has the razor-sharp sword a famed and feared Gurkha fighter gave him on that journey so long ago when he was a much younger man on a dangerous mission to bring aid to those who couldn't help themselves.

�Oh, it was definitely worth it,� he said. �Would do it again in a heartbeat.�

When Lynn Hauldren arrived this past March in the Chinese towns he helped save in the waning days of World War II, he was shocked at the attention paid to him and the effusive thanks he received. They remembered. And today we do too. It�s another story of another American man of the �Greatest Generation� who helped change history for the better.

Jon Duncanson

(� MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc., All Rights Reserved.)

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