75 years ago, they were just kids answering Uncle Sam’s call. Today we honor them.

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 75 years ago today, aboard the U.S. Battleship Missouri, representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the Articles of Surrender that ended the bloodiest war in human history.

Today at the Kern County Veterans Memorial plaza on Truxtun Avenue, tribute was paid to six local veterans of World War II — and to the 400,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who never made it back. The remembrance ceremony was hosted by California Pin-Ups and Patriots and the Sons of the American Legion and emceed by Marc Sandall and Lili Marsh.

The six honored veterans were just kids 75 years ago today.

Marvin Belcher. Vic Killingsworth. Charlie Wilson. Ray Mish. Walter Grainger. Roy Mushrush. Just kids when they answered Uncle Sam’s call to save the world.

Now they’re gray, in their 90s, only as mobile as their canes and walkers will allow.

“I’m losing my eyesight, and my ears, my hearing, and my hair, and my brain,” said Grainger, laughing.

But they haven’t forgotten, and neither should we. The 40 people who gathered Wednesday morning, Sept. 2, 2020 — three-quarters of a century to the day after Gen. Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s unconditional surrender on the first V-J Day — that’s Victory-Japan – honored veterans included two sailors, a soldier, two army airmen and a Marine.

“My job was to get them (the Marines) at the right place at the right time on the beach,” said Killingsworth. “So I was in charge of Higgins landing boats for three battles.”

2020 has been a year of anger, a year of division, a year of partisan warfare. Too bad everyone in the country couldn’t have stopped what they were doing long enough to salute the 300,000 U.S. World War II veterans still living. Just long enough to remind themselves that one emotion still unites us, or should — gratitude.

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