MESA, AZ - With 1,500 World War II veterans dying each day, we don’t have much time left to thank them for their service.
But the Honor Flight program is doing that and so much more.
ABC15 recently accompanied 30 veterans to Washington, D.C. where they got the chance to see their memorial.
Seeing the National World War II Memorial is moving, but visiting it with a veteran is overpowering.
We met one soldier who defied all odds.
Lloyd Gneiting was a combat engineer in the United States Army.
The Mesa man remembers his first moments of war.
“I landed on Normandy Beach head,” Gneiting explained.
His hat shows impressive service. He earned five Bronze Stars during the war.
“Really, I was just trying to stay alive,” Gneiting said.
He was fighting for his life on the beaches of Normandy and at the Battle of the Bulge.
He said he had two showers in a year and a half, never slept in a bed and seldom got to take his shoes off.
It’s something Gneiting hasn’t talked about for nearly 70 years, but being there at the memorial built to honor his service makes it feel like the war was just yesterday.
“We went and buried the Holocaust people,” Gneitling said.
The impact his words have is immediate, but the impact of the hugs and handshakes he gets is really something for Gneitling.
Gneitling said his favorite part is meeting the generation still learning about his service.
You won’t read his name in the history books, but Lloyd Gneitling fought for his country, never expecting a ‘thank you’ or a pat on the back.
He deserves so much more.