Honor Flight

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We’ll show you how a 99-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran was honored with a special flight.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON THIS SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON: WE'LL TAKE A RIDE ON A B-17 BOMBER WITH A MAN WHO SERVED DURING WORLD WAR II. WE'LL LOOK BACK AT D-DAY WITH A MISSION OVER NORMANDY, AND SEE HOW VETERANS OF THE STATE VFW HONOR-GUARD STILL SERVE THEIR FELLOW SOLDIERS. THAT'S NEXT ON THIS SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY EDITION OF "ARIZONA HORIZON." ºº GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY EDITION OF "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. TONIGHT WE LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE VETERANS WE'VE MET OVER THE PAST YEAR WHO'VE SHARED THEIR STORIES OF BATTLE, HEROISM AND SACRIFICE. WE'RE HERE AT THE WESLEY BOLINMEMORIAL PLAZA AT THE STATE CAPITAL, WHICH SERVES AS HOME TO A NUMBER OF MEMORIALS THAT HONOR OUR VETERANS. BEHIND ME IS THE ANCHOR FROM THE U.S.S. ASSIST WHICH WENT DOWN DURING THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR. ALMOST HALF THE CASUALTIESAT PEARL HARBOR OCCURREDON THAT NAVAL BATTLESHIP. WE SPOKE TO AN ARIZONA VETERAN WHO WAS ON GUARD-DUTY DURING THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK AND WE GOT TO RIDE ALONG AS HE TOOK A THANK-YOU FLIGHT OF SORTS ON A B-17 BOMBER.
VO: EUGENE LEONARD, PEARL HARBOR VETERAN EUGENE FOUGHT IN THE PACIFIC. IT SHAPES A PERSON. THE MEDALS ARE SYMBOLS OF HIS LIFE DURING WORLD WAR II, BATTLES THAT STILL LIVE IN HIS MIND. LEONARD WAS ON GUARD DUTY ON DECEMBER 7TH WHEN HE WAS HE SAW THE PLANES.
EUGENE LEONARD: WE GOT AMMUNITION AND AMMUNITION FOR OTHER PEOPLE TOO SO THEY COULD STAND UP THEMSELVES.
DON LEONARD: TRYING TO BREAK OPEN THE ARMORY. THEY COULDN'T FIND KEYS, SO THEY USED THE .45 AND TOOK OUT THE LOCK SO THEY COULD FIGHT. AT LEAST WE HAD SOME AMMUNITION.
VO: DESPITE THEIR ATTEMPTS, HIS MEN DIED IN FRONT OF HIM.
EUGENE LEONARD: IT WAS AN EXPERIENCE I HAD TO GO THROUGH. YOU LIVE THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE AND HOPE IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.
VO: IT'S THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE THAT INSPIRED GUY COULOMBE TO WRITE ABOUT HIS FRIEND.
GUY COULOMBE: HE'S A MODEST GUY. HE SAVED A LOT OF PEOPLE INDIRECTLY IN HIS YEARS AS A SKILLED PILOT INSTRUCTOR AND AIRPORT MECHANIC. THE EXPERIENCES ALONE, LISTENING TO THEM, REALLY BRING OUT THE GREATEST GENERATION AND WHAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR US.
VO: AFTER HEARING LEONARD'S STORY, THE MUSEUM TOOK HIM ON A FLIGHT FREE OF CHARGE. FOR THOSE THAT PILOTED THE FLIGHT, IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THANK YOU.
TRAVIS MAJOR: FOR ME PERSONALLY, WHEN I SEE ANYONE WEARING A WORLD WAR 2 VETERAN HAT, WHICH MANY OF THEM DO PROUDLY, I GO OUT OF MY WAY TO THANK THEM FOR THE SACRIFICES THEY MADE FOR US.
VO: FOR LEONARD, IT WAS AN OPPURTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS. THIS WAS HIS FIRST TIME ON A B17, AN ICONIC AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR II. OVER 12,000 B17's WERE BUILT FOR WORLD WAR II. TODAY, ONLY 12 REMAIN. AND ONE IS HERE AT THE COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE MUSEUM IN MESA. FOR THOSE THAT FLY IN A B17, IT IS AN HONOR.
PETER SCHOLL: IT'S AN ICONIC AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR II. BEING ABLE TO INTRODUCE VETERANS ESPECIALLY TO THIS AIRPLANE AND TELL PEOPLE WHAT IT MEANS AND EXPLAIN WHAT IT MEANT IN TERMS OF ITS CONTRIBUTION DURING WORLD WAR II, IT IS AN HONOR AND PRIVILEGE.
VO: LIKE THE REST OF THE GREATEST GENERATION, LEONARD IS DEFYING THE ODDS. HE SUFFERED A STROKE SIX MONTHS AGO AND LOST HIS WIFE.
DON LEONARD: THE DOCTOR SAYS HE SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE. EACH DAY IS VERY WELL APPRECIATED. SOMETHING LIKE THIS BRINGS JUST BACK ALL OF THE THINGS IN HIS LIFE. HE JUST LOVES IT.
VO: LEONARD'S FIGHTING SPIRIT INSPIRES THOSE CLOSEST TO HIM.
DON LEONARD: HE'S A VERY GOOD MAN, VERY HONEST -- CHURCH GOING. IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD TO BE PART OF HIM.
GUY COULOMBE: AND HE'S A MARINE. HE'S NOT LYING DOWN AND WOE IS ME. HE JUST KEEPS FIGHTING. THAT GENERATION ALWAYS DID.
VO: AND LEONARD SAYS -- EVEN AT 99, HE HAS MORE LIVING AHEAD OF HIM.
EUGENE LEONARD: FIRST STEP. IT KEEPS ONGOING FOR LIFE.
EUGENE LEONARD: THAT WAS A LONG WAY FROM HERE. I DON'T THINK HE WENT THAT FAR. I THINK HE'S OVERWHELMED TODAY.
TED SIMONS: EUGENE LEONARD TURNED 99 ON MARCH 5TH. HE SAYS HE'S DETERMINED TO MAKE IT TO 100.

EUGENE LEONARD, DON LEONARD, GUY COULOMBE, PETER SCHOLL

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