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Veterans reflect on Veterans Day meaning

SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- As Airmen around the world honor the service, dedication and sacrifices of veterans today, America's veterans are thankful.

"We are all very grateful for our troops our seas," said retired-Maj. John Yingling. "I wish I had something more uplifting to say, but it's just that simple."

Mr. Yingling is a World War II veteran of the Navy and began his Air Force Service in 1950 at the onset of the Korean Conflict. He is the only P-51 Mustang fighter pilot to shoot down a MiG 15.

Even though his historical aerial victory distinguishes this retired major, to him, the most important part of his life was his Air Force service.

"It was wonderful," he said. "It is a part of my life that will always be a high point -- it's unforgettable."

But for John, like so many other veterans, service in the military was not done for recognition. It was just "something you did."

"None of us realized at the time what kind of impact we would have," John said. "We were just doing the job we were trained to do."

But the impact of these veterans is clear, said retired-Army Lt. Col. Bob Yingling - the son of retired-Maj. John Yingling.

"Veterans Day is about the recognition of the sacrifices made by veterans like those in the Greatest Generation," said Bob Yingling.

While honoring previous generations of veterans is the foundation of Veteran's Day, both veterans, father and son, agree that recognition of today's Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines is very important on Veteran's Day.

"It is just like I told my son-in-law, Jeff, you are the next 'Greatest Generation,'" Bob Yingling said. Jeff is an Army Sergeant First Class. "The men and women serving today are continuing the traditions and heritage of those that came before them."

"Be proud of what you are accomplishing," John Yingling added.

Americans began recognizing the service of veteran with the first Armistice Day, on Nov. 11, 1918. The day is meant to not only thank, but honor veterans.

"I'm glad America still remembers the contributions of our veterans," said John Yingling. "I remember watching the big parades when I was a kid. My grandfather was a Civil War veteran and I can still remember him coming by the house after the parade in 1936. That was the last time he visited us - he was 96."

"I guess for people who are touched by the lives of veterans that is what means so much," said John Yingling. "Remember, honoring our veterans - it is not repayment. It is remembrance."

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