With trip to Hawai’i canceled, local veterans safely gather for 75th anniversary of WWII’s end

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:56 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It was September 2nd, 1945 when World War II officially came to a close, with Japan signing their surrender on Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri.

75 years later, the planned festivities to celebrate the special anniversary in Hawai’i were dampened due to the world’s latest historic time in the Coronavirus pandemic. A group of veterans from Northern Nevada - along with thousands of others across the country - had their trips canceled.

“(We had) a 99-year-old say ‘I’m bummed’ because this would be their last trip to Pearl Harbor or last trip anywhere,” said Jim Yuspa, founder of Honor Flight Nevada. “Let’s figure out how we can do it.”

Honor Flight Nevada teamed up Atlantis Casino Resort Spa to host roughly 20 of our local veterans as they live streamed the ceremonies in Hawai’i. The gathering was meticulously planned, taking into account all guidelines for safety amid COVID-19.

“It’s very humbling,” said Jim Climo, a Marine Corps veteran of WWII and the Korean War. “I’m very privileged to be part of this program and with these gentlemen.”

“In my mind, they’re the greatest generation and I feel fortunate to be part of it.”

The event inside the Grand Ballroom was a rare opportunity for the area’s heroes to reunite, tell old war stories and honor those still with us and not.

Jack Delaney, a Navy veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, was 11-years-old when the second world war ended.

“When the surrender was actually signed, you couldn’t hear yourself think because of the horns going off,” said Delaney. “Everybody was celebrating.”

While Delaney was a child during WWII, he would eventually work on and help maintain the USS Missouri, the historic ship where Japan surrendered three quarters of a century ago.

Delaney was part of Honor Flight Nevada’s trip to Hawai’i in February, boarding the USS Missouri for the first time in over 60 years.

“Fantastic,” Delaney said of the trip. “Every place we went they fed us.”

Steve Waranietz was also on that special trip to Hawai’i. The Vietnam veteran’s father served in WWII, saving many lives before and after the surrender.

“He was on the first minesweeper into the Sea of Japan after they signed the treaty,” said Waranietz. “He cleared over 200 mines.”

Despite the special trip to Hawai’i being canceled, our area’s finest were still able to have a memorable day, exactly 75 years after one of the most memorable days in human history.

“We harrass the hell out of each other, but at the same time we have a good time,” said Delaney with a laugh. “It’s like a family argument, but you don’t want to get in the middle of it.”

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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