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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
They're called the Greatest Generation. They're recognized as people who saved the world. And now, veterans from across Kern County are awaiting the chance to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials to their military service and sacrifices.
Three veterans shared some of their experiences in World War II on Thursday on "First Look with Scott Cox."
All day today until 7 p.m., the public is invited to stop by the Kern Veterans Memorial on Truxtun Avenue or go to a booth on Rosedale Highway between Chuy's Mesquite Broiler and Original Roadhouse Grill to donate money to send more veterans on future Honor Flights.
"Every one of these guys and gals has earned the right to go there," host Scott Cox said. It's incumbent on the rest of us, Cox said, to make sure they go.
"Folks, we have to get these guys back to the memorial in D.C.," Cox told listeners and viewers of the simulcast.
Kenneth Purdue joined the Navy in 1942. He hasn't been on an Honor Flight yet, and hopes to go this fall.
The machinists mate and engineer said he served for about three and a half years. He recalled that any ship with steam engines was about 140 degrees down below.
"I don't think we even thought about it," he said of the attack at Pearl Harbor.
He served on a destroyer -- "If the destroyers weren't there, the carriers couldn't go to sea," Purdue said.
A lie -- one Cox called a "minor transgression" that could easily be forgiven -- was what got Bobby Henry into the Navy.
Henry said he joined the Navy when he was only 15 years old. He said he lied about his age to get a driver's license. Then he used that license to sign up with the Navy.
He said he joined because "they had the nerve to attack us and kill our people." He served as a quartermaster, steering a ship, and left the Navy in December 1947.
Henry went on the first Honor Flight, and said of it, "my adrenaline was up so high." He shared the experience of many veterans: "We're remembering things we haven't remembered in a long time."
Robert Fowler, who served in the Army Air Corps until 1947, also went on the first Honor Flight.
He said he joined the military as an aviation cadet at Minter Field, and by the time he completed his basic training, the war was winding down.
"When your country called, you went and answered it," Cox said.
Fowler had this to say about Honor Flights: "It's kind of hard to describe. It was so enjoyable."