California Veterans Head to World War II Museum with Help from Actor Gary Sinise

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World War II veterans from the Veterans Home of California in Yountville were up bright and early for their flight to New Orleans.

“We’re veterans, we are used to this,” veteran Paula Ross said.

Paula Ross and her son, Norman, are on their way with their fellow servicemen to see the national World War II Museum.

“I’m very interested in history because our history makes our future,” Ross said.

Paula is 97 years young and survived the Holocaust before coming to the United States in 1939 from Austria. Immediately she joined the Army as a translator.

Now, 76 years after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Paula and her fellow troops are getting the trip of a lifetime thanks to a Hollywood actor.

Gary Sinise is well known from his role at Lt. Fan in “Forrest Gump,” but his work with veterans began long before that movie was released.

“When the opportunity came up to audition for ‘Forrest Gump’ I really wanted to do it because I had been working with Vietnam veterans groups and along came this opportunity to audition to play a Vietnam veteran,” Sinise said.

Sinise started the Soaring Valor program through his foundation. With the help of American Airlines, for the past eight years, Sinise has put down the scripts to fly with veterans around the country to the World War II museum.

“They can experience a museum that was built in their honor. Many of these veterans would never get the opportunity to go there,” Sinise said.

It is history these veterans were a part of. The museum features videos from the war, entertainment and meals for the vets.

It’s a trip for veterans like Ross who say they will never forget, and getting to go with an Academy Award nominated actor makes it all the more memorable.

“Oh, it’s very nice. He’s a very nice person,” Ross said.

“Very important the lessons we learned back then. It was such a special time,” Sinise said.

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