ALAMEDA, Calif. (KTVU) - Hundreds of people gathered on the deck of the former aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Hornet in Alameda.
On this Memorial Day, a time perhaps many equate with backyard barbecues and three-day weekends, these folks came to say thank you to the fallen servicemen and women.
But for some veterans, including 89-year-old Dale Berven of Livermore, it was a day to remember old friends killed long ago.
"One of my roommates was shot down the day before the Korean War ended. What a tragic loss that was. He was such a great person," said Berven.
Berven was a dashing Navy pilot during the Korean War, a dangerous job during a dangerous time.
He worries the lessons of history are getting lost.
"When you go back in history and think of all the young people who sacrificed their lives so we can live the way we're doing right now. People don't realize that." said Berven.
Richard King of San Mateo remembers how close his Army combat unit was in Vietnam.
"In combat, seeing people getting blown up, dying fighting the war. Those are the bad memories we keep in a box as we say," said King.
The veterans said they wanted to spend Memorial Day on the U.S.S. Hornet. It's a carrier that saw action in almost every major battle in the South Pacific during World War II and later in Vietnam.
It's now a museum based permanently in Alameda.
To help mark this day two veterans and their families threw wreaths overboard to honor those who fought and died.
Among those watching closely were 92-year-old Dean Meyer, who was deployed by the army to Japan just after the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
"I hope America continues to remember the past, so we don't have to keep going through it," said Meyer.