Nevada WWII vets headed to DC, shutdown or not

WASHINGTON — Shutdown or no shutdown, about 45 Nevada veterans will travel to Washington later this week to visit the World War II Memorial.

“The show will go on,” said Jon Yuspa, chairman of Honor Flight Nevada, which arranges trips for aging veterans to view the landmark.

Yuspa said canceling would cost about $20,000 in lost deposits.

More importantly, he added, “the personal side is we have veterans that, if we were to cancel, will never get to go because this is their last shot. We’ve had veterans die two weeks later” — after returning from a trip.

The veterans from Northern Nevada will board a flight in Reno on Friday, with 10 supporters from the Honor Flight program.

Most are World War II veterans; some fought in Korea and Vietnam.

Yuspa said he is working with Nevada lawmakers to clear potential obstacles if the government shutdown remains in effect this weekend.

But authorities warned the group to stay away, he said.

“I have gotten notice from the Capitol park police they will not be able to help us where they normally do,” he said. “They are telling us we will be arrested for trespassing if we go to the monuments, which might be interesting. World War II veterans arrested for their freedom.”

The Nevadans are scheduled to visit the World War II fountains Saturday, with Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Korean War and Vietnam War memorials.

“We are going to honor these veterans, no two ways about it,” he said.

Like the other monuments in Washington managed by the National Park Service, the World War II memorial was technically closed Tuesday.

An Honor Flight group from Mississippi arriving in four buses on Tuesday morning was greeted by yellow police tape, a metal barricade and a sign: “Because of the Federal Government SHUTDOWN All National Parks are CLOSED.”

They huddled outside the yellow tape until a handful of Republican lawmakers moved the barricade and, with a bagpipe player in the lead, marched forward.

However, a park service spokeswoman told ABC News the memorial would be re-closed and remain closed until government funding is restored.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.