WASHINGTON, D.C. -- We are celebrating Western New York by profiling some of our local veterans who took part in last month's Honor Flight. The Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight group gives veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and spend time at the various memorials there.
2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik and photojournalist Ben Read went with the group to D.C. and introduce us to twins who served together in Korea.
Identical twins Russell and Carl Notaro share more than their looks. They both served in the Army from 1952 to 1954.
"What does it mean for you guys to share this experience?" asked Dudzik.
"Fantastic. It was a just gorgeous. A lot of memories we had in the service and all that stuff there," said Russell Notaro.
The youngest of six children, Russell and Carl arrived in Korea right around the signing of the armistice. They would spend the majority of their 16 months in the service overseas together.
"Other people didn't have anybody, but you had each other," said Dudzik. "What was that like?"
"Well, it was comfort. He was with me all, most of the time, yeah. We got a little problems when he left me for about a few months to go to Japan and I stayed there until the end," said Russell Notaro.
"I was stuck in a Japan hospital for two months," said Carl Notaro.
"What was that like being separated from him?" asked Dudzik.
"Different. It had been a long time since we were separated," said Carl Notaro.
Russell got some R&R in Japan for a week to visit Carl in the hospital. Meanwhile, their parents dealt with the harsh reality of having two sons serving in the Korean War.
"They were concerned. Very concerned. My father had a heart attack when we were in there. We weren't allowed to go home," said Russell Notaro.
Russell, Carl Jr., and Carl Sr. were reunited in 1953. Carl Sr., a World War I veteran himself, was able to visit his sons that February. The brothers say coming back home after the war was an adjustment.
"We saw a lot of things in the service that people never saw before," said Russell.
Russell is now a volunteer firefighter for U-Crest and was happy to see his colleagues among the well-wishers at the Honor Flight send-off at the Buffalo airport.
"What was that experience like at the airport this morning?" asked Dudzik.
"Oh, fantastic. Fantastic. Very nice. Fantastic, yeah," said Russell.
“I was in tears a bit going through the parade, I'll be honest. A lot different from the service," said Carl Notaro.
The men also enjoyed the surprises revealed during the Honor Flight, including a grand welcome in Baltimore.
"Baltimore was very great. I didn't expect all of this from Baltimore. I really didn't know they were going to do this in Baltimore. I knew we were going to do this in Buffalo, but not Baltimore," said Russell Notaro.
The Honor Flight members also enjoyed a visit with World War II veteran and former Senator Bob Dole at the World War II Memorial.
“It's nice here. I'm waiting to see the Korean Monument. That's real nice I heard," said Carl Notaro.
"It's a real honor to be here with all the veterans here. Very honored to be here," said Russell Notaro.