Reno Vets Speak, So Others Won't Forget - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno Vets Speak, So Others Won't Forget

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Billy Miller Billy Miller
Richard Schuster Richard Schuster
Donald Lee Thomas Donald Lee Thomas

It's a far cry from the smoke and gunfire of 1960's Vietnam, to the picturesque garden at the Veterans Guest House. That's where we met Donald Thomas. Quiet and soft-spoken about his own wartime experiences, but eager to let those of us who were safe at home know about his best friend, who crashed in a helicopter during the war. Donald told us, "He was trapped inside, and we listened his scream as he burned to death." How does he feel today about serving? "I feel proud." Mostly about how proud he made his dad, a World War 2 vet: "He said if you're going to be a soldier, be a good one. So...I think I did."

Vietnam veteran Richard Shuster is proud too, wearing the uniform and the pins he always wears on Veterans Day, the ones he earned helping to save another country from tyranny. Like Donald...modest about his service. He told us, "We didn't want much to do with the limelight. We didn't want to do anything. We just wanted to get away from it all."

It's become an American tradition, thanking former servicemen. Veterans Day honors those who are still living, but many of those who are living lost the life they had. Richard sees that side among his comrades, who today are losing battles from our government's use of the deadly chemical Agent Orange. He told us, "I've seen them take their last gasp because they can neither breathe, hardly see. Their nervous systems are destroyed."

Downtown at Reno City Hall, waiting for the parade to start, we met Billy Miller...a veteran of World War 2. Billy walked the streets of a torn-up Berlin soon after Germany's defeat. While Veterans Day is a time to honor the aging warriors who served, it brings back memories he'd rather forget. As he put it, "I always tell people, if you feel sorry that you missed out of something, don't…because you didn't miss anything. There's nothing there you really want to get into."

Billy is still fit at 86 years old, but not as agile as when he moved survivors out of Germany's concentration camps. Celebrating on Veterans Day is tough to do, "Because it kind of brings back memories. Some of them I don't want to remember."

Back at the Veteran's Guest House, Donald Thomas finds something to celebrate. It's what we all have today. He simply said, "God Bless America."

It's difficult to come up with the right words when hearing these stories from veterans. There are 2: thank you, to all who served.

-written by John Potter

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