BROOK PARK, OH (WOIO) - A World War II veteran will be taking an honor flight to Washington, DC to view the WWII Memorial.
87-year-old Vito Colonna lives in Brook Park. Wednesday, he will see the World War II Memorial for the first time.
"I was told I'll probably break down," Colonna said. "I don't know. I'll try and hold on tight 'cause a lot of my buddies are down there."
Colonna was just 17-years-old when he was aboard the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. He was training to be a Navy medic in the ship's hospital.
He went on deck to have a cigarette, and his life changed.
"So help me God as the day is long, I lit the cigarette took two puffs and they dropped the bomb on the Arizona," Colonna recounts.
Everyone in the hospital was killed, and Colonna was thrown across the deck and then a torpedo hit the Arizona.
"I got thrown off and between the oil and fire, it burned my hair my face and eyes and everything."
Colonna swam to shore, survived and spent the war treating the wounded in the Pacific Theatre.
"God was with me, really and truly."
And that's why he's so grateful to Honor Flight Cleveland, the group that will fly him free of charge to DC to see the Memorial.