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Austin honors veterans with parade

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Austin appreciates veterans...Like WWII vet, Alvino Mendoza.

"I ended up in the Navy because I was trying to make points with my wife, who was a girl who met me in school," said Mendoza.

Before being drafted at the age of 18, Mendoza had never left his east side Austin neighborhood.

Mendoza added, "She said well, why don't you joing the Navy? I said, I don't even know how to swim."

He was never on land during his two years of service.

"I think God was with me all the time, taking care of me because I never received any type of wound...a few scratches but that was about it," Mendoza said.  "Lost a couple of friends there."

So did Army veteran, Johnny Montoya.

Montoya added, "I lost one of my friends on this truck that we were in."

He says he's blessed to be home, with these friends.

"We just wanted to say thank you and that their hard work is not...unnoticed," said Angie Rodriguez, a parade goer.

Montoya said, "Very grateful.  I'm very grateful for this."

Grateful for the smiling faces lining the streets, holding their flags and thank you signs--reminding these veterans they are not forgotten.

"It makes me proud that so many people come out on Veterans Day to recognize us," Mendoza said.  "I have five sons and they're all veterans."

Mendoza says his generation is approaching the point of history.

"There's a thousand of us dying every day.  So, it won't be too long before there's none of us left here," Mendoza added.

In the meantime, he's just enjoying the ride.

Mendoza added, "My life is full."

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chose Travis County and the city of Austin as a national regional site for this 2012 Veterans Day celebration.

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