Veterans commemorate Memorial Day onboard the Midway Museum

SAN DIEGO - Hundreds of people gathered aboard the Midway Museum on Saturday to salute fallen heroes and their families.

Four wreaths were tossed into the water: one for each branch of the military during World War II. It was a heartfelt gesture for these veterans and their families who were on board to pay tribute to those who never made it home.

"To me, it's very important," said retired Marine Corps veteran Bill Hay.

Hay remembers when he joined the military.

"I joined the Marine Corps when I was 16 in 1944," he told 10News.

He said he spent nearly 25 years in the Marines as a transportation logistics officer and then spoke about Saturday's ceremony.

"It's in memory of all the military veterans going back to the Civil War," he said.

Hay says he has been through a lot over his years, including being on the 55th floor of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

"I was just getting ready to start an eight-hour seminar," Hay said. "And the plane hit, the tower rocked and the first thing I thought, being from California, earthquake of course, until I saw flames and the bodies coming down off the planes. I told my class, pick up your personal effects and let's get the hell out of here."

He, his staff and 17 students all got out of Tower 1 safely.

"Shot at in three wars, hit in two and survived 9/11," he added.

There have been years of battles, yet there have also been years of joy.

Local Pearl Harbor survivor Stuart Hedley says this event holds a special place in his heart, especially this year.

"This is about my eighth or 10th time being here for this," he told 10News.

He says it is his first without his wife Wanda at his side.

"It's a … I shouldn't say its lonesome since I know she's right here with me, even though I can’t see her here," the 92-year-old Hedley said.

Looking around, he added, "In all that's going on in the world today, this is in evidence of patriotism to our country. I'm very grateful to be still here."

Hedley is also grateful to be part of the commemoration.

"The lives that were given to protect this country have given us the freedom to celebrate this day, Memorial Day," he said.

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