Hundreds gather at Virginia War Memorial to honor, remember fallen soldiers

Hundreds gather at Virginia War Memorial to honor, remember fallen soldiers
The ceremony included music from the 392nd Army Band Ensemble, a presentation of colors from the Marine Veterans Color Guard and a keynote address from Governor Ralph Northam.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Hundreds of people gathered at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond Monday to honor and remember fallen soldiers for the 62nd annual Memorial Day ceremony.

There was music from the 392nd Army Band Ensemble, a presentation of colors from the Marine Veterans Color Guard and a keynote address from Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Veterans and future soldiers watched on and listened to a rifle salute, TAPS and a memorial prayer.

"Our job, all of us, is simply not to remember their names but to try and know their stories and keep their memories alive," a statement said on the stage.

Those who attended were honoring and remembering those who died in combat dating all the back to the revolutionary war.

Joseph Vass said he lost numerous friends while serving in Korea.

"Out of 3,000 Marines who went aboard the ship when I went to Korea, only 30 came back," Vass said.

Vass enlisted in the Navy in 1944 when he was 16-years-old and served until 1947. His job was a "range finder operator" during World War II. He was stationed at ports around Italy.

"We controlled all the guns on the ship and fire," Vass said. "I could line all the guns up, push one button and they all fire at one time."

After leaving the Navy, Vass enlisted in the Marine Corp in 1948.  He served in Korea until 1952 then again from 1955 until 1956.

"I've lost some mighty good friends," Vass said. "One particular case, a very close friend of mine, we were standing there, the three of us together and one guy got hit with a grenade and he died instantly. A grenade hit an artery on his body and threw blood all over me."

Other veterans had similar tales. 99-year-old Bob Blueford was stationed in England during World War II.  He was a pilot of a B-24, a plane used to bomb the Germans.

Following this ceremony, there was a wreath laying ceremony at the Shrine of Memory.

RELATED: In Washington, D.C., President Donald J. Trump honored the soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.