MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - On Wednesday, a group of local veterans will embark on a special mission, but its nothing like the ones these World War II vets have seen.
Their mission will be to visit Washington, D.C. to see the World War II memorial built in their honor and that of all of the service people who fought in the war.
The memorial was completed in 2004, decades after the end of the conflict, and many veterans have never had the chance to see it.
Retired Master Chief Ross Street traveled the world by sea. After he left high school, he joined the service in 1942, as the world was embroiled in conflict.
"I wanted to be in the Navy," Street said, "Being a young hero, I thought."
He became an electrician aboard a destroyer that combed the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic.
"The German Submarines were pretty active in the Atlantic," said Street.
German U-Boats actively hunted down and sank Allied ships. Street's destroyer led a convoy across the ocean, and would fire depth charges to disable the enemy submarines.
Street said, "We never knew whether or not we sank any of the submarines. After the depth charges went off, we lost contact, so we assumed we sunk 'em."
Street later served in the Pacific Theatre, and Korea and Vietnam.
His service spanned a total of 29 years. He saw the world, but there's one spot he's never seen — the World War II Memorial in Washington.
"It's very touching," he said. "Makes you proud of your service."
Street recalled how service members were mistreated during the Vietnam War.
"There were times when I thought that the American people gave service veterans a raw deal when they came back from Vietnam. That was sad," he said.
He's delighted how things have changed, decades later. The Memorial was built as a "thank you" to the millions of young heroes who, like Ross Street, served their country in World War II.
The plane carrying all the service people on Honor Flight VIII leaves Mobile on Wednesday, Sept. 19, and FOX10 News will be there for their departure and their return.
The veterans are scheduled to arrive at Mobile Regional Airport on Wednesday night at 7:30. Everyone's invited to greet them with a hero's welcome.
More than 200 people have gathered at a decommissioned U.S. Navy destroyer stationed in Boston to commemorate the anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the U.S. into World War II.
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