TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – More than two dozen World War II veterans and their caregivers made the trip of a lifetime. They traveled to Washington D.C. to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of that war. The Florida State Elks association raised the funds and paid for the trip.
The vets arrived at Tampa International Airport shortly after three and were greeted by well-wishers waving flags and holding signs thanking them for their service. Len Fromel was in that crowd.
“I think they did a fantastic thing in World War II,” Fromel said. “And I think it really set a precedence for all of us.”
Judy Vergason traveled on behalf of her godfather. She witnessed first hand the vets’ reaction as they were greeted in D.C.
“Oh, they were very emotional. Very happy. Very elated,” said Vergason. “Every emotion you can think of. It was a fantastic weekend and I’m so happy they got to experience it.”
Frank Campbell, one of the vets who went, was all smiles as he returned to Tampa.
“We loved every minute of it,” Campbell said. “I am so happy to have a chance to go back to Washington and see our great memorials and share all the experience, all our history that’s laid in the state, the city of Washington D.C.”
Rudy Masi Sr. is with the Florida State Elks Association and traveled with the group. He was amazed at the younger generation’s interaction with the veterans.
“In the Washington Airport, they gave us like a five-minute standing ovation for all the vets,” Masi said. “And what was really moving was to see the young kids, as we were visiting the memorials, walk up to the veterans and just ask them their stories and want to know about them. And to see the youth bond with these folks.”
The Elks is a non-profit organization and is currently raising funds for a trip to Hawaii Pearl to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. The Florida Elks Charities are a 501-3C. All donations are tax deductible. Donations can be made on the Go Fund Me Site https://www.gofundme.com/SponsorWW2Vet or checks may be made out to FL Elk Charities and mailed to:
St. Pete Elks #1224
C/O Janet Gens
2675 66th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33710