Military hockey game benefits World War II vets




Posted on May 31, 2010 at 11:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 1 at 12:10 AM

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — It's probably the coolest Memorial Day event in all of North Texas. But the veterans hockey game in North Richland Hills also warmed the hearts of vets who fought in World War II.

This time, the younger generation battled on the ice to give the greatest generation one more chance to shine.

It's only the second time a local hockey team consisting of Air Force and Army vets has commemorated Memorial Day by facing off against comrades from the Navy and Marines.

This is also the first time they've played to raise money for the men who fought and won World War II.

"I was with an artillery unit on a .50-caliber machine gun," said Aubrey Stewart, who served in Nagasaki, Japan just weeks after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb that ended the war in the Pacific.

"Nagasaki was strange," Stewart said. "The people would turn their back on us when we would go by."

But what he never thought he'd see was the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He and more than 60 other vets made the trip, paid for by Honor Flights of Dallas.

"It just takes your breath away," said another vet, James Hayes. "It was terrific, terrific."

The money raised at the hockey game will help foot the bill so more vets can make the pilgrimage to the nation's capital.

"There is so much history talking to these people," said Jason Kelso of the U.S. Navy. "They've seen more in their lifetime than we ever will."

But now, the WW II vets are in their 80s and 90s, and those lifetimes have limits.

"I heard on the news today 1,800 die every day, so they better get on the list," said World War II sailor Basil Gentry, who won the honor of dropping the puck before Monday's battle on the ice.

And when the National Anthem played, the salutes weren't just for the flag, but for the men who risked it all to keep it flying high.