Four World War II veterans were once again part of history on Sunday.
Army Staff Sgt. Odon S. Cardenas, First Lt. Samuel Lombardo, Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, and Cpl. Sidney Walton participated in the coin toss at Super Bowl LIV before the Kansas City Chiefs square off against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Kansas City, I’m going for the Chiefs,” McGee said on his way down to the game. “I hope for a good game, good referees. One of them is going to be declared a winner.”
McGee is a combat veteran of three wars who began his career as a Tuskegee Airmen, completing 136 combat missions during World War II. He then completed around 100 combat missions during the Korean War and 173 combat missions during the Vietnam War. During his 30-year career, he was also the first African-American to command a stateside Air Force Wing and Base in the integrated Air Force.
Army Staff Sgt. Odon S. Cardenas served in the Ardennes and Central Europe, where he was held as a prisoner of war by Germany until his liberation by American forces.
First Lt. Samuel Lombardo took part in the Battle of the Bulge, Remagen Bridgehead, Ruhr Pocket, and Central Europe Campaigns. He also served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Walton served in the China Burma India Theater during World War II.
The recognition marks the culmination of six months of efforts by the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, along with the support of World War II veteran and Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach Marv Levy, that encouraged the NFL and its teams to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the war and to honor the “Greatest Generation.”
"16 million Americans served in World War II and less than 400,000 of those veterans are living today. It is critical to give them the honor and support now while we can during this 75th-anniversary commemoration of World War II," said Holly Rotondi, executive director of Friends of the National World War II Memorial.