HOUSTON – Veterans Day holds special significance for two Houston-area World War II veterans.
“Thinking of all my high school friends [and] grade school buddies,” said 97-year-old Joseph Sperandio. ” Many of them [were] written. Many of them did not return. They were unlucky. it’s going well [to my heart] volume.”
Sperandio was in the US Navy during World War II. The 97-year-old spent 23 years in the Navy.
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“We went out with the US Navy with merchant ships, are starting to repatriate all Japanese forces from Manchuria and China,” Sperandio said.
For Veterans Day this year, we caught up with Sperandio and his friend Richard Chaltry, 95. Chaltry is also a World War II veteran, but with the United States Army. The two are neighbors and good friends.
“I was in the age group that was just following as we went along,” Chaltry said. “I was supposed to go to Japan, but good old Harry Truman. He’s a saint. He saved me.”
On Friday, Chaltry and Sperandio enjoyed a glass of wine while reflecting on their service.
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“I kind of honor the guys who had to go before me,” Chaltry said. “I know some.”
For Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Chaltry and Sperandio were called to the field at Minute Maid Park where a sold-out crowd gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation.
“Oh, it was exciting like the dickens,” Sperandio said. “You almost feel like crying. Instead, I tried to honor [the crowd] greeting them.”
A veteran himself, Hector Giren is organizing the effort to honor other veterans at sporting events in Houston. A member of Spring Branch American Legion Post 654, Giren says he’s been bringing veterans to Astros home games for recognition since 2011.
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“It feels good to give back,” Giren said. “It’s joy. It fills my heart to see them recognized and to feel appreciated for everything they’ve done.”
It is estimated that there are approximately 165,000 surviving American veterans of World War II. On this Veterans Day, Sperandio and Chaltry reflect on their service and are happy to spend the day together.
“Since the early 1970s, we’ve been neighbors and friends,” Sperandio said. “We traveled together. If I have a problem, I can talk to him. If he has a problem, he will talk to me. We help each other.”
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