Bradenton veterans among 50 on visit to Washington war monuments

vmannix@bradenton.comJune 5, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Pauline Adams is looking forward to this trip.

So is Bernard Greive.

Alfred Mignone, too.

They're among 50 World War II veterans who will be aboard SouthWest Honor Flight on Saturday, a bi-annual one-day journey made possible by private donations to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C.

"I've wanted to go for some time," said Adams, 90.

"I know I'm going to enjoy this," said Greive, 88.

"I'm enthused," said Mignone, 87.

Don Vecoli knows it.

This will be the 12th trip for the founder and president of SouthWest Honor Flight, which has taken 600 area WWII veterans since 2007. Each journey is as rewarding as the one before.

"There's a lot of laughter, smiles, tears," said Vecoli, a retired Navy veteran. "It's a healing process. They went to war, came home, got on with their lives and never talked about it. But when they go (on Honor Flight) those stories start coming out."

Pauline Adams never saw combat, but her role was vital to the war effort.

A Marine lance corporal, she was in transportation in North Carolina, delivering vehicles for shipment.

"I was there so they could

fight," Adams said.

Saturday's visit will punctuate that sentiment.

"For anybody who'd been in World War II, this is something they'd most like to see," the New Boston, N.H., native said.

That goes for Bernard Greive.

Then a 19-year-old rifleman with the Third Infantry Division in Italy, he rode shotgun on a tank as Americans rolled into a liberated Rome on June 5, 1944, amidst a joyous celebration.

"They were glad to see us, it was great," the Dubois, Ind., native said.

A month later, Greive was wounded by shrapnel from German artillery in southern France. His war was over.

Saturday he'll mingle with old ghosts.

"It's going to bring back some memories, seeing those monuments," Grieve said. "I appreciate what they're doing for us, I really do."

So does Alfred Mignone.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was a yeoman aboard the U.S.S. Houston, a light cruiser in the Pacific that withstood being torpedoed twice in October 1944 by the Japanese.

"I saw a lot and still have flashbacks," Mignone said. "I'm steeling myself for that when I go up Saturday."

It's a journey that means a lot to him and he's grateful to the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 18, 111 63rd Ave E. Bradenton, a principal fundraiser for Honor Flight.

"This organization has bent over backwards for veterans like me and brought me closure," Mignone said. "Saturday will be a pinnacle for me."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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