John Tornga and wife Debra spent Thursday afternoon putting red, white and blue finishing touches aboard their vessel in Dunedin Municpal Marina.
The Torngas wanted to ensure no detail is overlooked for several local World War II veterans riding aboard "Semper Fi" during the Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 1, starting at 6 p.m.
"We're honoring them, but also, all World War II vets," Tornga said. "They get treated like kings."
The veterans range in age between 87 and 98 and represent all branches of the U.S. military. Tornga said the men live in Largo, Seminole, Clearwater, Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg and Lutz.
After the parade, Tornga said he'll likely take the men to a hero-worthy reception at The Dunedin Boat Club.
- Leonard Black
- Richard Detwiler
- Edward J. "Shorty" Doyle
- Richard Dunbery
- Paul Keener
- Edwin Pickhan
- Mel Smith, a U.S. Navy veteran whom Tornga escorted to Washington, DC, as part of Honor Flight. He witnessed the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Tornga, a more than 20-year Dunedin resident, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and has volunteered for the past two years as a guardian for Honor Flight, a non-profit organization that offers free trips to tour memorials and monuments in Washington, DC.
"Without them, who knows what language we'd be speaking," Tornga said.
The Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade is 6 to 9 p.m. at Dunedin Municipal Marina. (Click here for spectator viewing areas.)
Want to Honor a Vet?
Donate time as a volunteer for Honor Flight, make a monetary donation toward a veteran's flight, or sign your veteran up for a trip.