WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On this Veterans Day, 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. in October. In their first profile, they introduce us to two men who've been best friends for decades.
"You grew up together," said Dudzik.
"We were babies," says Peter Giarraffa.
"Just grew up together since we were little kids," said George Vaccaro.
Peter Giarraffa and George Vaccaro's journey as best friends began long before World War II.
"When he was a little guy, his mother, we lived next door to each other, and his mother used to get, what did your mother have?" asked Giarraffa.
"Oh, she had asthma and stuff," said Vaccaro.
"Asthma. Then he would come and live with us for a couple of days until she was better," said Giarraffa.
"His mother always took care of me," said Vaccaro.
But with the war well underway, and Peter the older of the two turning 17 in August of 1944, the men would soon leave Buffalo on different paths.
"I was 17 when I joined and I didn't go overseas, I spent Texas, Texas, and Texas. I couldn't get rid of Texas," says Giarraffa.
Giarraffa would remain enlisted in the Air Corps through 1947. In 1946 while Peter was in, you guessed it, Texas... Vaccaro joined the Army and ended up in Italy. He visited Germany before returning to the U.S.
And, after the war life went on.
"We like hockey, football and all of that stuff and so that's how we're together all the time, so," says Giarraffa. "I don't know why we're still friends, but we get along pretty good."
Now, more than 70 years later, they're inseparable as ever.
"After all these years, you're still best friends. What's the secret for being even just friends for so long, not even talking about best friends? How do you keep your friendship going?" asked Dudzik.
"Well, we're like brothers," says Vaccaro.
"Yeah, he lived next door to me. I was born first on the Westside of Buffalo and then he came along. I'm two years older than him and he was my best man and I was his best man and we have Godchildren," says Giarraffa.
This was their first visit to the WWII Memorial. Vaccaro hasn't been to D.C. in 22 years, and both cherished being able to spend the day with fellow veterans, their families, and each other.
"Yeah, we're just part of each other's family. I'm part of his family. He's part of my family. That's the way we've been all these years," says Vaccaro.
Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight is always looking for veterans and volunteers. A Vietnam veteran joined the latest Honor Flight for the first time.