A New Hartford medical provider that helps veterans with combat injuries is embarking on a new mission for Veteran's Day: connecting veterans from each generation. Our Andrew Sorensen brings us some of their stories as they share memories of service and sacrifice.
NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. -- In a room full of veterans at Sitrin Healthcare's community center, stories of military service stand proud on Veterans Day like Old Glory waving in the wind.
"We would have to record what the enemy was, and in most cases, it was the 11th Panzer Division," recalled World War II veteran Anthony Randazzo.
Randazzo spent two of his years in the Army collecting intelligence, hundreds of miles behind German lines during World War II.
"Our mission was to disrupt communications of any kind," he explained.
They destroyed Axis communications, chased one of the most formidable Panzer Divisions halfway across Europe, and even played a crucial role in duping Hitler into miscalculating where the D-Day operation would land.
"A lot of the things you endure as a soldier are the same," said Captain Luke Slatton, Sitrin Healthcare Center Military Liaison.
It's stories like Randazzo's that Slatton, an Iraq War Veteran and Battle of Fallujah participant, wants to bridge between veterans from the Korean War, to Vietnam, and all the way to his own generation of fighting.
"I have a group of soldiers in here, and I've got a group of future soldiers, of future officers in the military that are here to learn these experiences and put that in their tool bag," he said.
Each generation back to World War II is here, all intent on reminding themselves of the same lesson, or learning it for the first time, in the case of Slatton's ROTC students from Syracuse University.
"Many of them served in a situation where it was a defining point in our nations history," Slatton said of the veterans. "And a lot of these young men and women stepped up to bat and it was a very, very noble and honorable thing."
They hope to create an appreciation for each other like Randazzo has for his friend and former infantryman, Robert Walker.
"It was the infantry that supported the armored outfits. Without them, we couldn't do anything," Randazzo said.
It's an appreciation we should all have, because without them, there are many things we wouldn't be able to do, either.