Mark and John Finnegan, owners of Finnegan’s RV Center in South Beloit, Wis., will use eight donated RVs and two charter buses to take 128 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., all free of charge through a project they call “Vets Roll,” according to WIFR-TV, Rockford, Ill.
The vets will visit the new WWII memorial, something they say their father never had a chance to do. And since they are not just flying the vets out, they will all have a lot of time to share war stories along the way.
“Most of these veterans are in their mid-80s and early-90s, and it’s just , there’s so much rich history that we just won’t be able to get back,” said Mark Finnegan.
One of them, Albert Kath, shared his memories with NBC15, Madison, Wis.
“The Battle of the Bulge started at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning,” recalled Albert Kath. “And all hell broke loose.”
And Kath was in the middle of it. By the end of the day the 20-year-old would be a prisoner of war.
“The next morning we were loaded into box cars,” he remembered. “For six days we didn’t have anything to eat or drink.”
Kath would remain a POW for more than five months. When he was rescued, he was 50 pounds lighter.
Fast forward 59 years. The WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. opens. As much as Kath wanted to go, he couldn’t. He had a sick wife at home.
“It’s my duty to take care of her before I go anyplace.”
Last year, after 65 years of marriage she passed away, and although he’s frail, he’s now ready to leave his home in Janesville, Wis., and head east.
Enter the Finnegans. At no expense to the veterans, they will be driven to the nation’s capital. The first departure is May 17. Kath is already signed up.
“They call them the greatest generation and they truly are,” said Finnegan. “This is just a small small way of thanking them for everything they did for our country.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people shot. I’ve seen a lot of them injured where they would never be any good anymore,” said Kath. “I’ve seen almost every state in the United States. I’ve traveled quite a bit. It would be the last thing I want to see.”
Finnegan estimates the trip will cost $100,000. He hopes donations will cover it. Their website will be up and running this week where people can donate. It will be called www.vetsroll.org.