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July 31, 2014

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Aviation Nation show has special meaning for some on Veterans Day

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Brian Nordli

U.S. Army veterans Bill Roe (front) and Louis Rothstein watch the Aviation Nation air show on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2012.

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Air Force veteran Mark Goldstrom and his son Trace Goldstrom stand at the Aviation Nation air show at Nellis Air Force Base on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012.

Mark Goldstrom stood on the sprawling concrete tarmac at Nellis Air Force Base surrounded by memories during the Aviation Nation air show Sunday.

Wearing his "Air Force veterans" hat and jacket, he watched with his son as an F-22 Raptor tore through the sky next to airplanes from the Korean War and World War II. He let the deafening roar of the jets rattle through his unplugged eardrums. Up above, he noticed the white jet-trail marks that scratched the cloudless blue sky.

The noises, the sights, the sounds — it all brought him back to the 20 years he spent as a crew chief fixing planes for the Air Force. It reminded him of his time fixing C-5 aircraft and dealing with the difficult, but classic, F-111 aircraft. They are why he decided to spend his Veterans Day at the air show.

“Being retired, I miss the airplanes,” Goldstrom said. “I wanted to bring my son out here to see them.”

Goldstrom was among the many veterans who spent Veterans Day watching airplanes dart and maneuver across the sky.

U.S. Army veteran Bill Roe said it was the first air show he’d ever attended. Wearing his "Vietnam War veteran" hat, which he never leaves home without, Roe chatted with fellow Vietnam veteran Louis Rothstein.

“The C-47 probably saved my life a few times,” Rothstein said while a couple of planes roared past them.

“I remember a couple of those came in and cleared the ground for us,” Roe added.

Roe said the experience has brought back a flood of wartime memories, though he’d prefer not to talk about them. Still, he said the show has been a great way to meet other veterans and support the military.

“It’s nice to see the next generation is doing what we did,” Roe said. “And that there’s still guys out there willing to put their life on the line.”

Kerry Pease munched on a barbecue beef sandwich as he watched the show. Pease served as an aircraft firefighter from 1969-79. The show brought back memories of the days he spent marveling at the planes as they took off. He said he also put out more aircraft fires than he could count when they returned from battle.

Pease said he was surprised by the amount of people who came to the show. Their support meant more to him than the show itself.

“Just the camaraderie (here),” Pease said. “They’ve been so good. It’s great to see how many people showed up.”

Goldstrom said he was disappointed he missed the Veterans Day parade that took place at the same time, but he couldn’t miss a chance to be with the planes. He once cried when he watched the last of the F-111s he had worked on get hauled into the aircraft boneyard.

These sights and sounds forever will be a part of him.

“It just brings back a lot of memories.”

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