World War II OC veterans gather at Heroes Hall – Orange County Register

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When Florent Plana, a WWII documentary maker from Normandy, France, learned that a veterans reunion was taking place at the Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa, he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.

Plana spent more than seven years traveling the United States to record first-hand video testimonials from WWII veterans of their experiences to be permanently preserved – and here was going to be a play of the aging heroes.

  • World War II veteran Cliff Sharp, 97, helps insert screws into a seven-panel industrial artwork, depicting five wars. The art is the brainchild of Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano of the US Navy Reserves, left. They were at a rally at the Heroes Hall Museum on Saturday, January 8, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • WWII veteran Bill Stewart, 92, speaks with US Navy Reserves Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano at Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Pisano calls in veterans to place 500,000 bulkhead screws dries on a seven-panel industrial art piece, depicting five wars. Pisano will then add newspaper clippings and original artifacts from each era. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • World War II veteran Mike Panos, 93, signs a frame around “Stand Together”, a three-dimensional work of industrial art created by Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano of the US Navy Reserves. It was exhibited on Saturday January 8, 2022 in Costa Mesa. Museum of the Hall of Heroes. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • “Stand Together,” a three-dimensional work of industrial art created by Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano of the US Navy Reserves, is on display at the Heroes Hall Museum in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Pisano used 4,300 screws and had over 300 veterans sign the frame, which also included the paw prints of two war dogs. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • The veterans’ names adorn the frame around “Stand Together,” a three-dimensional work of industrial art created by Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano of the US Navy Reserves. It is on display at the Heroes Hall Museum in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Pisano used 4,300 screws and had more than 300 veterans signed, which also included the paw prints of two war dogs. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • World War II veteran Mike Panos on Saturday January 8, 2022 at the Heroes Hall Museum in Costa Mesa is one of more than 300 veterans who signed a frame around ‘Stand Together’, a work of art industrial three-dimensional created with 4,300 screws. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Sally Nockold kisses Gary Tegal on Saturday, January 8, 2022, after he presents her with a piece of art recognizing her late husband, Lewis Nockold, who was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Nockold, a Navy veteran, also helped organize a trip to Pearl Harbor with eight local WWII veterans for the 80th anniversary. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Dwight Hanson shows photos of WWII veterans on Saturday, Jan.8, 2022 in Costa Mesa, from their recent trip to Hawaii for the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. He organized and facilitated the trip with eight Southern California veterans and their families. Bryce Jordan, 97, died a week after returning home. He is pictured on a slide with his son. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Florent Plana, a WWII documentary maker from Normandy, France, chats with WWII veteran Wallace Johnson, 96, during a rally at Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. ( Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • World War II veteran Billy Hall, 95, shows off a version of himself at age 16 as a Marines tail gunner. He just returned from a trip to Pearl Harbor with several other local veterans and their families. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • US Navy Reserves Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano, top right, poses with local WWII veterans at Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. He involves veterans in a project of industrial art with seven panels which will represent five wars. Top left: Bill Stewart, 92, Cliff Sharp, 97, Harry Hammer, 93, bottom left: Mike Panos, 93, Wallace Johnson, 96, and Billy Hall, 95. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • US Navy Reserves Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano enlists the help of veterans to place 500,000 drywall screws on a seven-panel industrial artwork, depicting five wars. He was at a rally of local WWII veterans in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • World War II veteran Bill Stewart, 92, receives the green light on Saturday, Jan.8, 2022 in Costa Mesa from U.S. Navy Reserves Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano, after Stewart drove a few screws into the work of industrial art with seven panels of Pisano which will represent five wars. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • US Navy Reserves Chief Petty Officer Joseph Pisano enlists the help of veterans to place 500,000 drywall screws on a seven-panel industrial artwork, depicting five wars. He was at a rally of local WWII veterans in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A WWII veteran helps place some of the 500,000 drywall screws that will adorn a seven-panel industrial artwork depicting five wars. He was at a rally of local WWII veterans in Costa Mesa on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Dwight Hanson shows photos of WWII veterans on Saturday, Jan.8, 2022 in Costa Mesa, from their recent trip to Hawaii for the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. He organized and facilitated the trip with eight Southern California veterans and their families. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Gary Tegal rings a bell in remembrance of WWII veteran Bryce Jordan, who died at the age of 97 a week after returning from a visit to Pearl Harbor with other local veterans. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • WWII veterans top left: Bill Stewart, 92, Cliff Sharp, 97, Harry Hammer, 93, bottom left: Mike Panos, 93, Wallace Johnson, 96, and Billy Hall, 95 years old. They were at the Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • World War II veteran Mike Panos, 93, signs a frame around “Stand Together”, a three-dimensional work of industrial art created with 4,300 screws on Saturday, January 8, 2022 at the Heroes Hall Museum in Costa Mesa. , (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

The veterans, including six from Orange County, had recently traveled to Pearl Harbor together for the national Pearl Harbor 80th anniversary commemorative events.

Saturday’s rally at Heroes Hall at the OC Fair & Event Center was an opportunity for veterans to share their feelings and see photos from the trip for the first time.

A gathering of so many WWII veterans in one location is rare, Plana said.

“So I wanted to be able to capture the stories on camera to share with the next generation,” he said. Her own grandfather was imprisoned in a labor camp during the war. “(The US military) is the reason we were released in Europe, which is why my grandfather was released in 1945.

“Some of them have never shared their stories and I’m just trying to make sure that together we can share their stories,” he said of his documentary efforts.

Marine Reservist Joseph Pisano de Chula Vista, a talented artist whose industrial-art 3D representation of the American flag, “Stand Together, a Veterans’ Flag,” has been on display in Heroes Hall since 2018, was not going either no longer miss the chance to meet the vets.

Pisano asked the men to sign the large wooden frame of the artwork, which was created using thousands of drywall screws to represent a waving American flag.

The reservist also saw the rally as a chance to engage veterans in his latest play, “Art of Immortalizing Heroes,” which is a series of panels recreating memorials from the wars Americans fought in World War I. to world war. on terror and the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Pisano has had vets drill a few screws for the piece, which he plans to display in San Diego, as many older veterans can no longer travel to Washington DC to see the actual memorials.

“Time is running out,” said Pisano. “We are losing veterans and military personnel exponentially. So if we can create something that gives them a sense of honor and dignity… It’s all about their stories. I am literally just a messenger.

The recent five-day World War II veterans trip included visits to the Pacific National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma, USS Nevada, and USS Utah Memorials.

The veterans ranged from 93 to 101 years old. Some served both in WWII and in Korea.

A veteran of the group, Billy Hall of Orange, enlisted at the age of 15, serving from 1941-45 during WWII, and again from 1948-67 during the Korean War and Vietnam War. .

At 16, Hall was a rear gunner in a dive bomber.

“I was at a hectic age at the time and going to fight a war and fight in the Marine Corp seemed good to me.” Hall said.

He went on to earn a Bronze Star for designing advanced communication systems while serving in the Korean War.

Hall said he was grateful for the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor with his fellow veterans.

“I’m still in awe of this happening to me,” Hall said. “I have never been pampered before and I am pampered.”

Hall also congratulated Marine Corp veteran Dwight Hanson of Newport Beach, who was the primary organizer of the trip.

Hanson helped secure funding for the trip from the Stanley W. Eckstrom Foundation, the Community Foundation of Orange, the Freedom Committee of Orange County, and the American Legion of Newport Beach Post 291.

“In Hawaii, they treated us like royalty,” said Cliff Sharp of Huntington Beach. He served in the Army Air Corp from 1943 to 1946.

“The younger generations don’t seem to receive the same education about our history and I hope we don’t lose it,” he said, acknowledging the importance of travel and reunion. “It has been an honor to serve my country and I am happy to be here again at 97 years old.”

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