Veterans receive briefing on trip to see World War II Memorial
By JESSICA ARSENAULT-Telegram Staff Writer

HERKIMER - With the date of the second World War II Memorial trip drawing ever closer, plans are winding down and veterans are gearing up.

The World War II Memorial Trip Committee held an orientation luncheon for all veterans going on the second trip to go over what veterans can expect.

"It's exciting," said committee member Al Dorantes. "We're getting down to deadline now. All the little details are getting tied up and buttoned down. This is when it really starts to get exciting."

Thursday afternoon found the 55 trip-taking veterans and their guests enjoying a free lunch, donated by Tony's Pizzeria, the committees "official pizzeria," before receiving an orientation. Committee members went over the weekend's itinerary, handed out hotel rooming assignments, discussed what to bring on the trip, and answered questions the veterans had.

"This is the first time they're all getting together as a group," said committee member John Brennan. "We wanted them to meet each other, meet the committee and go over things with them."

Trip number two will depart from the Herkimer VFW at 5:30 a.m. on May 5. Their first stop in the nation's capital will be Arlington National Cemetery, followed by the WWII Memorial, a boat tour and luncheon on the Potomac River, A tour of the White House or Roosevelt Memorial, and a bus tour of various monuments. They are expected back at the Herkimer VFW Saturday evening for a "Welcome Home" reception dinner.

The veterans agree they are all anxious for the weekend of May 5.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the Memorial," said veteran Harold Mumford.

Mumford served in the United States Navy from 1939 to 1945, serving primarily in North Africa and Sicily.

"It's good to be meeting fellow veterans," he said. "I'm seeing some faces I recognize and according to the list I do know some going (on the trip)."

Joseph Aiello, who was an alternate for the first trip is also looking forward to May 5.

"I'm a charter member of the WWII Memorial," he said proudly, retrieving his member card from his wallet to show. "I donated money to help build it."

Aiello is a retired Army Captain. He served from 1942 to 1949 in Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Germany, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. Aiello lead three invasions, eight campaigns and spent 430 days on the front line.

"I've been to Washington (D.C.) before, but not to the Memorial," he said.

"I want to see where my money went," he added with a laugh.

Also at Thursday's luncheon were John Griner, a veteran who took the October trip, and Doctor Gregory O'Keefe, who accompanied the veterans on the first trip and will do so again in case a medical emergency arises.

"We didn't need (O'Keefe)," Brennan joked. "We just used him to carry luggage. Hopefully he will not be needed this time either."

"These guys all take care of each other," Dorantes commented about the veterans.

World War II memorial trip organizer John Brennan serves coffee during an orientation lucnheon to one of the veterans chosen to attend the trip to Washington, D.C. on May 5.
World War II Memorial trip organizer John Brennan serves
coffee during an orientation lucnheon to one of the veterans
chosen to attend the trip to Washington, D.C. on May 5.
Telegram photo/Jessica Arsenault

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