SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The public was invited to say goodbye to a San Diego World War II veteran who passed away this month.
Sidney Walton, one of America's last WWII veterans, died on Oct. 2 at the age of 102 in Santa Monica, Calif., surrounded by his family. Walton was in the process of his "No Regrets Tour," in which he aimed to visit all 50 governors in each state. At the time of his death, Walton has visited 40 governors across the country.
On Thursday, a roughly 125-mile, police-escorted motorcade brought Walton to his final resting place in San Diego where he was buried alongside his wife, Rena, for a private service.
“He was always full of joy," Krystle Rains, a family friend, said. "He lit up every room.”
The public joined in the "final hurrah" for Walton along the procession route down Interstate 5 from Los Angeles. The timeline for the procession was as follows:
- 10:15 a.m. - Meet at Pierce Brothers Valhallah Mortuary, 10621 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood.
- 10:30 a.m. - Motorcade led by Los Angeles Police departs Pierce Brothers Mortuary and travels down I-5 to San Diego. Participants can join for as far they want.
- 12:00 p.m. - Handover to San Diego County Sheriff's Department to escort the motorcade to El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Canyon Rd., Sorrento Valley.
- 1:30 p.m. - Public visitation & commemorations at El Camino's Chapel of the Bells, outdoor venue. Open casket. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, Santee Mayor John Minto, and other dignitaries will be present.
- 2:45 p.m. - Transport of Walton to a nearby gravesite for private burial service next to his wife.
"If not for the bravery and courageousness of these soldiers who sacrificed their lives," Walton's son, Paul, told ABC 10News after his father's death. "We would not be here today."
Walton was born in New York City in 1919 and enlisted in the Army and served during WWII as a corporal and medical technician.
After the war, Walton taught geology at Duke University and later did graduate work at Yale University. During that time, he met his wife, and years later, they welcomed Paul into the world. They went on to have two daughters — Judy Roanne and Eloise Lenore — as well.
In 1960, the Waltons moved to San Diego.
In 2018, shortly after his 99th birthday, Walton began his nationwide tour to visit all 50 governors.
"We asked him, how would you like to go on tour throughout the United States, and give every American the opportunity to meet a WWII veteran before it's too late?" Paul said. The idea of his "No Regrets Tour" was born.
"Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent, that didn't matter to him. What mattered is that people would appreciate the sacrifices that our WWII vets made," said Paul.
Though Walton didn't meet every governor, Paul said he intends to finish the journey in honor of his father.
Paul hoped his father would inspire others for years to come.
“It was pretty magical to see him at the end of his life spend so much time meeting the next generation and educated them about his experiences," Rains said.
"Seeing the world through his eyes, and the country through his eyes, and I have to tell you. Today, the world lost a truly great patriot," Paul said.
Walton's family has started a GoFundMe campaign to assist with his funeral costs.