Veterans Watch WWII Memorial Dedication - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/29/04-Tyler

Veterans Watch WWII Memorial Dedication

Sixteen million men and women fought in World War II. More than 400,000 of them died. They are now known as "The Greatest Generation."

"It just hurts," John Fonfara, a WWII veteran, said. "It just hurts, you know. It hurts real bad. Just seeing all the ones you used to know and all the ones that got killed. And it was pitiful."

Seventy-nine-year-old Fonfara of Tyler was a front-line medic during the war, caring for wounded soldiers who were fighting the Germans in Italy. Today's memorial dedication was difficult for him to watch.

"That brings a lot of memories back," Fonfara said. "I bandaged a lot of men, the guys we fought with, and they died, they died in my arms. I felt pretty bad about it. I wish I could've saved them but I couldn't."

Even after all these years, Fonfara can still remember the exact dates when significant events happened during combat, like when he suffered shrapnel wounds.

"I got hit in October 1944, October the 10th," he said. "I got hit in the ankles."

Other military veterans today remembered the war through a different set of eyes. Tyler resident Larry Mims is the son of a World War II vet.

"I can remember not having a dad around," he said. "I was only 2 years old when he went in and didn't really know him when he came home."

It's taken six decades to create a memorial to all the Americans who died. Now, more than 1,000 World War II veterans are dying every day. The survivors' family members say the recognition is long overdue.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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