TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Congresswoman Martha McSally is urging Americans to treat Memorial Day as less of a holiday and more of a solemn remembrance of veterans who died for our country.
The retired Air Force Colonel wore her uniform as she visited veterans at the Arizona Veterans Home in Tucson today.
She said, “I think if we can just spend a moment in the day to reflect on those who are protecting those freedoms that we have. We have the freedom to go shopping today. We have the freedom to have a barbeque and swim in the pool. We have the freedom to take a day off from work, if you have a job and we have, I think to just take a moment and remind ourselves of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect those freedoms."
Mc Sally's audience included veterans whose service reaches more than 70 years---back to World War 2.
B-17 Bombers had to fly straight and level to their targets while fighters and anti aircraft guns tried to make sure they'd never make it.
Adenito Chavez was able to shoot back from one of the most dangerous spots on the plane--squeezed into a ball turret so tight he couldn't wear his parachute.
But sitting in the clear plastic ball protruding from the bomber’s belly gave him quite a view.
“I saw all the action and I saw the engines on fire so I said it's time to get out so I got up and put my parachute on and took off."
He spent 14 months in Stalag 17 an infamous German Prisoner of War camp. The POWs kept working to escape so they’d keep the Germans busy.
"We still fought but we were in the prison camp. Because they had to have guards to guard us and the more of us that were there the more they had to put on."
92 year old Henry Richards did the dangerous dirty job of an infantryman in Italy--- a foot soldier whose life depended on finding protection from flying bullets.
He says,"It was mostly behind rocks, behind trees, behind the tree trunk, and stuff like that.”
He was wounded in the hip and knocked out of action.
"It was nothing but danger, danger, danger, danger because of my position as an infantryman. That why I say there was no glamor. It's not like the Air Force where you wave and say, See you, do a good job fellas."
But both men outlived the danger. Now they are among the dwindling number of World War Two vets who remember the sacrifices 70 years ago.