MANCHESTER, NH (WHDH) — For one New Hampshire father and son who served the United States, a trip to visit the memorials in Washington D.C. is one of a lifetime.
“Oh my, I just can’t believe this,” said Donald Rich, a World War II veteran.
For the first time, the 94-year-old is visiting the memorial that honors him and the soldiers he fought alongside
“I’m proud. I’m very proud that they put this together to remind people what it means,” Rich said. “This country sacrificed so many.”
Men and one woman in their 80’s and 90’s gathered together in Manchester for a tribute to the brave things they did on the battlefield so many years ago
The group got quite a send-off with family, friends and strangers lining up with warm words of appreciation at the airport.
A local charity, Honor Flight New England, organized the special mission, flying the veterans to the capitol for their service and sacrifice.
“This is unbelievable,” the former soldier reiterated.
In Washington, they read the names on the memorials and took in the massive monuments honoring everyday heroes who answered to the call of duty and changed history.
In the 1940’s, Rich was a 20-year-old Tech Sergeant with an important duty.
“Our job was sort of to clear the way for General Patton’s tanks. We were under fire most of the time,” Rich said. “The reason I received the bronze star – I had some close saves, but I’m glad I made it.”
Rich’s son Alan is also glad he made it.
When the group stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Alan Rich found the name of a fallen comrade from his time at war
“It’s right here,” Alan Rich said.”David A Kreitzer.”
“Does it mean something to you when someone comes up to you and thanks you?” 7News reporter Jennifer Eagan asked.
“It does, it does,” Alan Rich paused. “Sorry. We didn’t get much of a reception when we first came home, so when someone says thank you, it does mean a lot.”
On this day of thank yous, these veterans traveled more than a thousand miles and traveled back decades in time.
They said each and every thank you – echoing across the years – goes a long way.
“I’m overwhelmed,” reflected Donald Rich. “I’ve shed a lot tears.”
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