Memorial Day observed in Rancho Palos Verdes


Billed as the Southland's largest Memorial Day celebration, the 28th annual observance included speeches from dignitaries, skydivers displaying American and military flags and aerial fly-overs by vintage aircraft.

Thousands of people came to Green Hills Memorial Park to say thank you. Veterans say they did what they had to do. Angel Banuelos, 90, is one of many U.S. veterans with an incredible story to tell.

"We wandered into an area that was under German observation," said Banuelos. "They got a clear shot at me, why I'm here I don't know."

Banuelos was awarded the Purple Heart. He was 20 when he was drafted and sent to Europe in World War II.

"I feel very thankful I was able to go to war to fight for this wonderful country of ours and I look around and we're still free," said Banuelos.

That freedom came at a huge cost to some. Tom Elden fought in the Vietnam War. His father died during World War II.

"Those are the real generation of heroes," said Elden. "My dad was the executive officer of the destroyer, died in the battle of Midway and had a ship named after him so those people paid the price."

Susan Mitchell-Mattera is the daughter of a U.S. veteran. She lost her dad James Mitchell Jr. when she was five years old. He was killed just two days before he was scheduled to come home.

"We have some memories of our dad but the memories live on through our families and the stories and the vets who adopt us as their nieces and nephews," said Mitchell-Mattera.

Terry Meyer, a U.S. veteran, says he comes to the event to remember those he served with.

"So many kids these days just wake up and go to school and grow up and go about their plans and don't realize what took place to give us the freedom that we have," said Meyer.

The event concluded at noon with a 21-gun salute and the release of 100 white doves as a symbol of peace and the gift of freedom that we have today.

Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.