BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — At Spring Oaks Assisted Living, they have a Wall of Honor, showcasing the veterans who live there.
Some have now passed on. But at 97, Paul Andidero is going strong.
“I was in France, Germany, Belgian, Holland; all through Europe there,” he said.
The native New Yorker was drafted into the Army during World War II.
He was an engineer, building bridges for the allies, allowing tanks, equipment and troops to move through Europe.
“Building the bridges they would bomb us. Our first sergeant got his leg knocked off. He was shot,” Andidero said.
He is humble when it comes to his time in World War II.
But Spring Oaks Life Enrichment Coordinator, Karen Whittingstall, says he deserved to be recognized. That’s why she helped get Paul get on an Honor Flight in June. He and dozens of other vets will visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
“He said, I don’t understand why I’m being honored like this. I don’t deserve this. And I said yes, you do deserve this. You deserve this very much,” said Whittingstall.
Paul does have plenty of family who look after him too, including his granddaughter, Danielle.
“He’s told me stories in the past that he was with Patton. He’s been all over the world. He’s thankful for his experiences and he’s our hero,” she said.
Whittingstall will be the chaperone for the Honor Flight.
Paul will go along with his friend Wally who spent 30 years in the Coast Guard.
“Just being able to experience this whole thing with them is unbelievable. I don’t even have words to describe. I know I will be teary-eyed, that’s a for sure thing,” said Whittingstall.
Paul, who is fierce at bingo these days, doesn’t know what to expect on the Honor Flight.
But based on what we’ve seen in the past, he will feel appreciation, and love like never before.