These warriors weren't forgotten
Shortly before he was to lead the group in prayer, Bert Johnson was taken by surprise.
At an early Memorial Day celebration Saturday, Johnson received a special gift in honor of his father's military service.
“I was just beside myself. I didn't have a clue they were going to do that,” Johnson, 59, of Marysville, said of being presented with the U.S. flag. “I love my dad. He was my hero.”
Johnson's dad, Dilbert Johnson, a World War II Army Air Corps machine-gunner, and other heroes were honored for their service during a flag-raising ceremony at the Museum of Forgotten Warriors near Linda
Vets and future service men and women, including 17 cadets of the AIRPAC squadron of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, attended the event, said squadron Commanding Officer Lt. Chuck Eskew.
“We're here to honor our vets. Our unit will go anywhere within means to do that,” he said.
Cadets said they were proud to make the seven-hour trip north from Santa Barbara to meet Mid-Valley veterans.
“It's an honor to wear this uniform they fought for. It's them who should be thanked for fighting, not us for coming,” said Michael Gross, 17, of Santa Barbara.
Cadet Lauren Carr, 16, said she enjoys meeting veterans at events like Saturday's.
“They'll stop and talk to you. I like to hear their stories about the service,” she said.
All that talk has not convinced Carr to join the military though. After two years as a cadet, she said she is taking the experience for what it is - a chance to learn and travel - and does not feel pressured to make a bigger commitment.
Eskew said the Sea Cadets
program provides students exposure to the military. It is not a recruiting platform.
Standing 6 feet, 4 inches in his stark white uniform, Gross said he plans to join the Navy and study medicine.
“Someday, they'll have stories to tell too,” Joe Costa, 60, of Sacramento, said to another veteran as they passed a cadet outside the war memorabilia-filled museum.