MODESTO — Capt. Sam Satariano flew bravely during World War II.
He piloted 25 B-17 bombers over Nazi Germany, fighting for the United States.
“Scared? There ain’t even a word for it,” the retired Air Force captain replied when asked how he felt during his time of service.
Often times he says he was surrounded by enemy planes.
“If you stand still, good night. The fighters will you knock out,” he said.
Satariano says he always pushed aside his own pain and sorrow.
“Twenty-three of us, only five of us come home. All my buddies went down,” Satariano said as he held back tears.
Now, at 100 years old, he still endures.
“I’m feeling good but aches and pains, can’t hardly move my arms,” he said.
Earlier this year, Satariano sought help from the Modesto Veterans Affairs office. He said he was told he’d have to wait six months before he could see a doctor. His pain persisted but so did his drive to find help.
“Sam’s 100 and, with all due respect, Sam, he may not be here in August,” Duke Cooper, the founder and CEO of American Veterans First, told FOX40.
Satariano connected with Cooper, whose Riverbank nonprofit organization helps veterans and first responders.
Cooper said they could not afford to wait and contacted congressional candidate Dr. Ted Howze.
“My goal in this whole thing was really to see Sam get the care he needed and continue to live a happy life,” Howze said.
Through Dr. Howze, Satariano got private medical care under Dr. Miguel Hernandez with Orangeburg Medical Group in Modesto.
“Wonderful having somebody helping us,” Satariano told FOX40.
While Satariano is fortunate, Cooper said there are so many veterans who still need care.
A VA representative told FOX40 over the phone that retaining doctors in Modesto has been a challenge. They also sent FOX40 a statement, saying, ” … The Modesto VA Clinic is at its full doctor/patient ratio. We are actively recruiting for physicians so that we can accept more patients at this clinic.” The full press release is available on the VA’s site.
“There needs to be more education from the VA,” Cooper said. “The government spends a lot of money in a lot of different areas, how about spending some on our veterans?”
Cooper added that veterans deserve medical care, as they have lived through wars, sacrifices and heartbreaks.
“It was rough, I tell you,” Satariano said through tears.