Yuma Veteran recounts his service in the Navy
YUMA (3TV/CBS 5) -Arizona is home to over 500,000 veterans. As we inch closer to Veteran’s Day, we want to honor some of our local heroes.
We spoke to one veteran in Yuma, 87-year-old Anthony Bejarano, who served as an aircraft mechanic in the Navy, and he shared his story with Arizona’s Family. He lives at the Arizona State Veteran Home, where they have been celebrating their veterans throughout the week. Bejarano said he was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“They see and feel the love that the people here have for us veterans. We can feel it,” he said. Bejarano was raised in Yuma. He showed us his room, covered with pictures he holds dear, each one capturing moments from his life. Pointing at a picture of his family, he said it was one of the most important pictures he has.
“My family, I care a lot about them, and they care a lot about me,” he said. “I spent 20 years in the military,” he said. He joined the Navy when he was 20. He said he studied aviation while he was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee, where he became an aircraft mechanic.
Bejaron said he looked up to his pilots. “The pilot and the plane captain get so close together like if the pilot was your father,” he said. He recounts the time one of his pilots was missing in action in Vietnam. “I didn’t know if he was alive,” he said. Thinking the pilot was dead, he accompanied the chaplain to tell the pilot’s family that their loved one had died. He said It was one of the hardest things he had to do.
They later found out the pilot was being held as a prisoner of war. His pilot was released in 1973 as part of Operation Homecoming. “I never thought I was going to see him,” he said. The memory brings him to tears.
It’s these special stories that he said make Veteran’s Day that much more special. “I helped celebrate it because I’m a veteran, but it feels good to be celebrated. That people can hear our stories and learn,” he said.
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