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VETERAN AIMS TO REPAY DEBT TO FELLOW MAN

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"Part of patriotism is being kind and gentle enough to look after people in all walks of life . . . it's just my way of paying back the government for the things they do for me." - Emsley "Dub" Phillips

Patients at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center can't help but notice the bright Scottish plaid tie and perpetual smile worn by Emsley "Dub" Phillips as he walks the hospital's hallways.Phillips - who is a member of the Scottish-American Military Society - is a volunteer at the hospital's surgical center, where he had heart surgery in 1989. His volunteer work is his way of repaying the government for its assistance and the rights of freedom, he says.

Twice a week, Phillips provokes grins and chuckles throughout the hospital as he cheers up recovering surgery patients. And 10 to 12 times a year he dons a plaid kilt, white knee-length socks and black buckle shoes to march in cadence with bagpipes at parades.

"I don't play the bagpipes, though," he said. "My wife told me, `If you want to play the bagpipes, you have to play them out in the barn.' Well, we've never had a barn."

Even if he had a barn, Phillips couldn't learn the bagpipes because of his diminished hearing, he said. He lost 80 percent of his hearing and received shrapnel in his jaw and foot during an engine room explosion when he was a U.S. Navy seaman in World War II.

While in the Navy, he was stationed in the South Pacific and witnessed the invasion of the Philippines, which left 39 people dead and 97 wounded.

Phillips says he dislikes flag-burners because they don't understand what the flag means.

"People think the flag is just a piece of cloth," he said. "But when you look at the flag and see the stars . . . you look up into the sky and see the stars. When you see the red you see the blood of all those who have died to defend this country."