World War II veterans in Houston reflect on Veterans Day, honored at Astros ALCS game

Veterans Day has a special meaning for two World War II veterans in the Houston area.

"I think of all my high school class buddies [and] grade school buddies," said 97-year-old Joseph Sperandio. "A lot of them [were] drafted. A lot of them didn’t come back. They weren’t lucky. It goes right [to my heart] to me."

Sperandio was in the United States Navy during World War II. The 97-year-old spent 23 years with the Navy.

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"We went out with the American Navy with some merchant ships, start repatriating all of the Japanese forces from Manchuria and China," said Sperandio.

For Veterans Day this year, we met with Sperandio and his friend 95-year-old Richard Chaltry. Chaltry is also a World War II Veteran, but with the U.S. Army. The two are neighbors and good friends.

"I was in the age group that was just tagging on as we went along," said Chaltry. "I was scheduled to go into Japan, but good ole Harry Truman. He’s a Saint.  He got me off the hook."

On Friday, Chaltry and Sperandio enjoyed a glass of wine while reflecting on their service.y

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"I kind of honor the guys who had to go before me," said Chaltry. "I know some."

For Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, both Chaltry and Sperandio were called onto the field at Minute Maid Park where a sold-out crowd gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation.

"Oh, that was exciting as the dickens," said Sperandio. "You almost want to cry. Instead of that, I tried to honor [the crowd] by saluting them."

A veteran himself, Hector Giren organizes the effort to honor other veterans at Houston sporting events.  A member of Spring Branch American Legion Post 654, Giren says he has been bringing veterans to Astros home games to be recognized since 2011.

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"It just feels good to give back," said Giren. "It’s joy. It fills my heart seeing them being recognized and feeling like they’re being appreciated for everything they’ve done."

It’s estimated there are roughly 165,000 surviving American veterans from World War II.  This Veterans Day, Sperandio and Chaltry are reflecting on their service and happy to spend the day together.

"Since the early 1970’s we’ve been neighbors and friends," said Sperandio.  "We’ve traveled together.  If I have a problem, I can talk to him.  If he has a problem, he’ll talk to me.  We help one another."

**NOTE** We here at FOX believe our veterans deserve to live with dignity and independence, not on the streets. So join us in making camo your cause in support of the Honor U.S. Vets campaign. To donate and learn more about how you can help U.S. Vets end veteran homelessness, scan the QR code on your screen right now. And make sure to post on social in your camo with #HONORUSVETS.