Local veterans flying to WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.

Medford, Ore. — Dozens of local veterans are embarking on a journey that will bring them to the World War Two Memorial.

It’s a flight to honor their service to the country.

22 Southern Oregon veterans will be leaving from here at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

“I can hardly believe it because here I am 96,” WWII Veteran Ernie Gallo said.

22 Southern Oregon veterans who served in WWII will be flying across the country to Washington D.C. Friday morning.

They’ll be flying for free with Honor Flight in Oregon to see their memorial on the National Mall.

“They giggle like little kids at the thought of doing this… they’ve waited so long to see this memorial,” Honor Flight of Oregon President Gail Yakopatz said.

Veteran Ernie Gallo says he gave up traveling five years ago, but he thought this trip of honor was worth it.

“My son flew out from Florida and he wanted to join and I said ‘well okay kid, let’s do it!'” Gallo said.

Gallo was stationed in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1945 working as a cook, nurse and fireman.

“Wherever needed, you did what you had to do,” Gallo said.

Now, more than 70 years later, he’s one of the Southern Oregon veterans who gets to be honored as a hero.

“The emotions run from nothing but happiness and smiles with the greets they get from the general public back there… to tears in remembering their friends that aren’t there to share it with them,” Yakopatz said.

The organization’s president – Gail Yakopatz – says the flight shows those who have sacrificed themselves for our nation they will never be forgotten.

“It’ll be perfect… a real honor,” one veteran said.

“I’d never imagined I’d ever be there,” another veteran said.

After their fast and furious tour through Washington D.C., the veterans will be arriving back in Medford 30 minutes after noon on Monday.

NBC5 News Multimedia Journalist Elizabeth Ruiz was raised in Northern Colorado. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Journalism and Media Communication. She also minored in Spanish and studied in Spain. While at Colorado State, she was an anchor and reporter for CTV Channel 11.

Elizabeth loves Zumba dancing, singing and spending time with her family.

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