WWII veterans head to memorial on Honor Flight despite shutdown

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

WWII veterans head to memorial on Honor Flight despite shutdown

CREATED Oct 11, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- 35 Southern Nevada World War II veterans are heading to Washington, D.C.

They join hundreds of other veterans who have defied the government shutdown to take Honor Flights to tour the World War II memorial.

Federal officials decided to allow those tours even though national parks are supposed to be closed.

Herbert Cohen was 17-years-old when he joined the Coast Guard in 1943, which had been taken over by the Navy.

He's got a model of the transport vehicle he helped run, ferrying soldiers and supplies into battle.

Cohen said taking World War II veterans is a fight Washington politicians can't win, "Nobody's going to stop us. The Germans couldn't stop us. The Japanese couldn't stop us. These stupid politicians aren't going to stop us either."

Honor Flight Southern Nevada takes off from McCarran International Airport on Friday morning.

"I've looked forward to his year for years. I've looked so forward to this," said Gaetano "Guy" Benza, and 88-year-old World War II veteran.

Action News was there at the Southwest ticketing area, where all the veterans gathered. Many of them have never seen the World War II memorial in Washington.

Some said the government shutdown is disappointing. "I just wish it would be all over with, because that's what we fought for. We fought for a free world and there shouldn't be any of this fighting," said Benza.

An Honor Flight coordinator said they did get permits for all 35 veterans on the trip to see the memorial on Saturday. However, there is no guarantee they'll get access beyond the barricades to some of the other areas.

"They are not issuing permits for the Korean or Vietnam, but we are told that we can try to get in," said Belinda Morse, coordinator.

But she knows this is a group that knows how to fight for what it wants. After all, these vets did it in World War II.

The veterans will return to Las Vegas on Sunday.