SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — There are more than 58,000 names etched into the Vietnam War Memorial.
"Vietnam? I don't think there's any word in the dictionary that can describe it. One sentence? It was a needless situation," said Ray Fino, Vietnam Army veteran.
Sitting in front of the memorial transports Ray Fino back to the battlefield.
"Flashbacks, basically. Good and bad. Death isn't always sad, but there's a lot of smiles that you miss," he said.
The memorial is personal to him.
One of the names on the wall was Fino's childhood neighbor Jesus Ortega Jr.
"He put his best foot forward. He had a good family."
He found his name and sat in front of it, allowing his emotions to rise.
"Sad and happy I guess in some way," he said.
Sad because he saw the destruction the war had on families.
"She used to blame me," he said with tears rolling down his cheeks. "How come god didn't take you instead of my Jesse?"
Fino made it home with a bronze star and a purple heart after two years of service.
"I just want people to learn from it," he said. "To listen. Listen. Nobody wants to listen.."
Honor Flight San Diego invites World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans to apply to take flight with the non-profit. Flights are free for veterans through donations.