CLEVELAND (WJW) — Visitors to the Cleveland National Air Show at Burke Lakefront Airport are being treated to performances by some of the greatest aerial acts in the world.
On Saturday, the pilots with the legendary U.S. Navy Blue Angels dazzled the crowd with a demonstration of power and precision as they thundered up and down the North Coast. The sights and sounds of the air show are bringing back a flood of memories for 103-year-old George Harabin of Twinsburg Township, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II.
Harabin told FOX 8, “Oh, it’s just like yesterday, I can close my eyes, I can see the battlefield, but I never dreamed about it, that’s it, it didn’t affect me, that was a great thing.”
Harabin grew up on a farm and enlisted the Army in 1941, serving in the Pacific. His thoughts often turn to the friends and brothers in arms who did not make it home.
“We were fighting across the island and our outfit got ambushed. My battalion, the First Battalion, lost 200 men,” he said.
After the war, he came home and became a carpenter, raising a family of four children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He is the uncle of the president of Discount Drug Mart, which sponsors the air show.
Harabin’s status as one of 240,000 surviving veterans of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, makes him an incredible source of history that air show pilots, performers and visitors seek out to share his stories about the war or just to pose for a photo.
“Oh, I can’t believe it, can’t believe it, so many nice people come around but it’s great, feels good,” he said.
Harabin says he wouldn’t mind going for a ride in a vintage World War II bomber or fighter, but going up in a modern jet like the Blue Angels F/A 18 Super Hornet is a different story.
“It would be something, but I don’t want to have a heart attack or something,” he said with a hearty laugh.
When asked what he attributes his longevity to, George told us that he never smoked or drank, and that he takes plenty of nutrients as recommended by his doctors.
The Cleveland National Air Show continues on Sunday and on Monday, weather permitting.