WWII veterans don't let age slow them down - Tucson News Now

WWII veterans don't let age slow them down

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Harry McFadden/WWII Vet & PASM Volunteer. Harry McFadden/WWII Vet & PASM Volunteer.
Tom Gorman/WWII Vet & PASM Volunteer Tom Gorman/WWII Vet & PASM Volunteer
Group Volunteer photo - Pima Air and Space Museum annual volunteer appreciation dinner. (Source: Pima Air and Space Museum) Group Volunteer photo - Pima Air and Space Museum annual volunteer appreciation dinner. (Source: Pima Air and Space Museum)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

History comes to life at the Pima Air & Space Museum all thanks to its volunteers.

There are about 300 volunteers at the PASM. A majority of them are U.S. military veterans; an estimated dozen of them are World War II veterans. 

Even though many of the World War II veterans are in their 80's and 90's, they're still sharp and can rattle off information without hesitation.

Harry McFadden, who goes by "Mac" has volunteered at the museum for about 10 years and logged almost 4,500 volunteer hours. McFadden is 86 years old.

Mac volunteers at the museum one day a week for 8 hours in the World War II hangar. He answers visitors' questions and adds some of his own experiences to bring the history lesson to life.

He suffered a stroke about five years ago, but doesn't let that or his age slow him down.

"Well I like it. I enjoy this part of my life now," said McFadden. He added, "It gives me a chance to meet people. I meet people from all over the world."

He joined the U.S. Army at 18 years old and served from 1946-1948. He was stationed in Japan and was responsible for repairing teletypes and M-209 code converters. 

McFadden admits it can be tough to go into details about his service. "I find it very difficult to, because I get emotional," he said.

Tom Gorman is another WWII veteran who volunteers his time at PASM. Gorman is 93 years old and has logged about 1,000 volunteer hours.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1942-1945 and was stationed in Europe. He was an air operations officer responsible for supervising flights and making sure equipment was ready for missions.

Gorman says he joined the military in his early 20's, but he makes it seem like he got back from Europe yesterday. His eyes light up whenever anyone asks him a question about the war. He tells Tucson News Now, that telling the same stories over and over again never gets old.

"Why would I get tired of telling the truth?" said Gorman.

It seems Gorman's visitors enjoy listening to him too. "Well just hearing their experiences first hand is just amazing and just knowing the sacrifices they made. It just touches your heart," said Laverne Diede who's visiting from North Dakota. She adds she's thankful to hear the stories from those who lived to tell the stories.

On this Memorial Day, McFadden and Gorman hope people don't see it as just a day off.

"Well, we can stop for a minute or two in our busy schedules and say a word of prayer for the ones that didn't make it," said McFadden. "For the ones that didn't make it and are disabled. We should never forget." He added, "We should take time out. We shouldn't be in a bar drinking or having a party or something. We should be thinking of how the world has changed so much since then."

To see the full story, watch Maria Hechanova's report on KOLD News 13 at 4 p.m.

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