Hundreds of students at Wilson Middle School joined administrators in honoring two World War II veterans at the school’s annual Veterans Day assembly Thursday.
The school's tradition, which began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has previously honored veterans of the Vietnam and Korean wars and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One past honoree was the late World War II veteran Louis Zamperini, whose life story inspired the book-turned-film “Unbroken” in 2014.
The Crescenta Valley ROTC Color Guard as well as the Wilson Middle School choir and band opened the ceremony. Guests of honor were given plaques in recognition of distinguished valor.
This year, the school welcomed Abe Rosenzweig, who served in the Coast Guard as a coxswain, or boat leader, in a landing craft for several invasions in the South Pacific.
“These future citizens, they look so good. They are going to make this country better. The country right now is wonderful a country to live in, and I hope they appreciate it,” Rosenzweig said.
“During the war, I was proud to serve, and whatever happened — I’m not going to bring out the battles and stuff like that because you do remember, and it hurts, but I’m glad to be back and I'm very happy to have served when I did,” he added
The school also once again honored Art Sherman, 96, a former bombardier turned military intelligence officer after he was wounded on his 13th mission while flying over Austria as part of the U.S. 15th Air Force.
As military intelligence, Sherman helped plan the 1944 Allied Forces invasion of southern France.
“When the war broke out, a lot of us participated. In fact, whether you were a school person or a soldier, you were serving,” Sherman said. “If you have grandparents or friends or relatives that are about my age, please ask them about their experience in the war.”
He added later, “Remember this today, you're the future of this country. Keep it the way you like it, which is what you are doing today.”
Sherman leads Wings Over Wendy’s, a group of veterans and associates who meet every Monday morning at the Wendy’s at 6430 Platt Ave, West Hills.
Novarro Stafford Sr., who worked as an anesthesiologist in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, was also honored but was unable to attend the assembly.