By Master Sgt. Cesar Ochoa
21st Security Forces Squadron
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Two non-profit organizations, the National Museum of World War II Aviation and Honor Flight of Southern Colorado, invited 14 local World War II Veterans to gather at the National Museum of World War II Aviation Feb. 2 to celebrate and honor the sacrifices they made for our nation.
Eleven Airmen from the 21st Security Forces Squadron and the National Security Space Institute helped with the event. The museum curators took the veterans, Airmen and community members on tours through the museum displays and explained the history surrounding World War II and the ongoing restoration of aircraft and vehicles from that era.
The president and CEO of the museum, Bill Klaers, showed his true passion by starting up one of their flyable vintage bomber fighters, a B-25 named “In the Mood.” It was just one of the operational aircraft at the museum.
“I realized that we have it easy because of the technology we have now,” said Senior Airman Candon Brake, a 21st SFS Defender. “I also got to meet a Pearl Harbor survivor (one of 13 living USS Arizona survivors) by the name of Donald Stratton. I also really enjoyed witnessing the World War II B-25 running the engines and having conversations with the vets, who were very humorous and very active despite being almost five times my age.”
The World War II veterans in attendance were transported back to a time when planes such as these rolled off the assembly lines; you could tell they were happy to hear the roar of the engines as they grinned ear-to-ear.
“I volunteered because I wanted to meet and hear the stories from the World War II heroes and thank them for what they did,” said Senior Airman Honore Melton, another 21st SFS Defender. “My great grandfather also served in World War II. I got an understanding of how hard these men and women had it during their young lives and how strong they are now.”
They patted each other on the back as they pointed at the gun turrets, remembering what it was like to defend our country one bullet at a time. They also shared heroic stories of the battles they won, the hardships they overcame and the lives they saved around the world.