Virgil Huntley doesn’t recall exactly how much he gave, but he donated to help build the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
He’s never seen it.
“I hope it’s as beautiful as they say it is,” said Huntley, 95, of Mystic.
On May 26, he and Edwin Burke, 90, also of Mystic, will visit the memorial for the first time as part of the Connecticut American Warrior “Day of Honor” trip. The program raises money to fly veterans from Bradley International Airport to Washington to see the WWII Memorial and others.
“It’ll mean a lot to me,” said Huntley, who was supposed to go last year but got sick right before the trip.
Huntley was drafted and served in the Connecticut National Guard 192nd Field Artillery Battalion, which later became the 43rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. He served from 1941 until 1945 in Guadalcanal, the New Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines.
He recalls hearing news of the atomic bomb.
“I remember when I was walking by a kitchen tent and they had a radio, and the radio was broadcasting about dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima,” he said. “We knew we would go home.”
Edwin Burke joined the U.S. Navy and served from 1942 through 1945, as a special gunner on merchant ships assigned to protect other ships.
He remembers one particular storm that lasted seven days.
“There was swells and waves,” he said. “The ship would go down in the hole and the stern would come out of the water, and so it would just shake the ship all over. And then you would go up and ride the wave. And it was way higher than the mast.”
Burke said he applied to American Warrior so he could see the memorial.
“I want to see what it looks like,” he said. “It’ll probably be one of the last things I see in the military, you know?”