'We gotta keep on telling our story': Memorial Day serves as reminder of sacrifice

Winter Park ceremony honors World War II fallen

WINTER PARK, Fla. – It was an emotional afternoon Monday as hundreds gathered at Glen Haven Memorial park to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives in combat.

World War II combat pilots Maj. Jack Hallet and Chief Sgt. Melvin Jenner were among those who attended the ceremony.

Memorial Day is an emotional day for Hallet as he remembers one of his good war friends.
"I choked up last night in bed thinking about him, and then today, when they were talking about other people, that was one of my thoughts was Paul," the 98-year-old said.

Jenner, 96, said the day is a painful reminder of all the sacrifices made during wartimes.
"War is not fun. Airplanes getting shot down is terrible ... especially when you don't see parachutes coming out them airplanes," Jenner said, as he recalled seeing some of his closest friends die while in combat.
Hallet and Jenner were among the soldiers who flew over Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

The service for Memorial Day included a tribute to Gold Star families, reenactments and a formal wreath laying.

Both men said that although it's hard to rehash those life-defining moments, there is a greater purpose.
"This program is for the younger people and we gotta keep on telling our story to the younger generation," Jenner said.

Hallet said he hopes today's youth respond the way his generation did if the time comes.
"When Pearl Harbor broke, I went in and enlisted the next day. It took me a couple of hours just to get in the door to enlist," Hallet said. "I'd like to believe that if we had the same situation, that the younger generation would do the same thing."

While in Europe, Hallet flew 104 missions.

The ceremony included participation from several local veteran organizations, among them the Florida State Reenactment Society and Daughters of the American Revolution.

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