Honor Flight: Valley Veterans Visit Iwo Jima Memorial

It was an emotional day for Central Valley Honor Flight veterans as they visit the World War II Memorial that pays tribute to their sacrifice.The cold wet weather didn't stop these World War II veterans from enjoying their first stop, the U.S. Marine Corp War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.Steven Marusich of Visalia said, "It was really a very emotional moment for all of us, because we lost 322 guys on that ship. It went down." This was not the first time this 90-year-old Navy veteran saw the flag being raised; he was there that February morning in 1945. "We were on a hospital ship and we saw the flag being raised about 10:30 or 11 in the morning. An announcement came on that the flag went up. We could see it waving," said Marusich.As you take a look, five U.S. Marines and one Corp man raising the American Flag, but there are 13 hands they say the extra hand is the Hand of God.Robert Ashburn, a veteran from Atwater said, "I went through all this 9 invasions as a damn dumb kid, 17-years-old to 20. Then you start getting those Kamikaze's from the Philippines on and that was really horrible. But thank God we made it."The Valley's most seasoned veterans then got to see their memorial, the World War II Memorial, a majestic honor to the 16 million who served in the war, and the more than 400,000 who lost their lives in the name of freedom.Despite the rain lashing at the 68 vets and their guardians, they stood strong, even posing for a group picture. "It's a wonderful place. It's priceless. It's something everyone who participated in the war should see," said Valley veteran Raymond Lee.The unrelenting rain forced the vets onto the buses and off to the Library of Congress where they enjoyed a luncheon with Valley Congressmen Nunes, Valadao, and Costa.Wednesday will bring a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the Changing Of The Guard.