RENO, Nev. (Mynews4.com & KRNV) - "We've been waiting several months even years for this flight," said 86 year old George Poore. Poore served in World War II as an Army Rifleman and like many, he has never been to the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. "I never dreamed of anything like this," David Slaton. Slaton is 88 years old and also served in WWII, but it the Navy aboard the USS Pennsylvania.
Nevada Veterans received a hero’s welcome everywhere they went from people they had never met. People lined up cheering and waving flags as they entered the WWII memorial.
"This is immense," said Jim Monsoor. Monsoor and his wife Marilyn are on the trip from Reno. Jim served in the Army Air Corp in WWII and Marilyn was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.
There are 56 granite pillars outlining the memorial with each state and territory engraved on the front. Many veterans had their pictures taken in front of the Nevada pillar as well as states where they were born.
"Even though I'm enjoying it, it brings tears to my eyes to see all the kids we lost," said Al Porta. Porta was a B-17 Pilot in the USAF in World War II. He completed 17 missions before being shot down. Porta was a Prisoner of War for seven months.
During World War II the gold star was a symbol of family sacrifice. There are 4,000 gold stars lining the freedom wall inside the memorial. They represent the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives in the war. "Three of those stars belong to three of my crew members killed when I got shot down November 2nd 1944," said Porta.
Navy veteran Bill Manning is 87 years old. He entered WWII at age 17. "I've walked around here four times already," said Manning. His twin brother also served in the Navy but died 10 years ago. "I was kinda hoping he'd be here. Maybe I was looking for him," said Manning.
Many veterans took time to reflect at the WWII memorial; on the past, of those they lost, and of those who could not make it here today. "It's something I will remember forever," said Jim Monsoor.