San Jose celebrates Veterans Day


ABC7 spoke with several veterans at San Jose's 90th annual Veterans Day celebration, including one man who is 90 years old.

"They wanted me to play at night... keep them entertained," said Sam Licata, a soldier who was in the 7th Division in Okinawa.

90-year-old Army Sgt. Sam Licata is a music man at heart. He kept his comrades entertained with the harmonica during World War II when he wasn't busy saving lives as a combat medic on the field.

The San Jose native spent a year-and-a-half in battle in the South Pacific. He was dubbed the "Pied Piper of Okinawa" for his accidental effort in getting eight Japanese soldiers to surrender.

"Right in the heaviest part of the battle I saw the bugle laying on the floor, picked it up and that started the story," said Licata.

After belting out some notes to "The First Call to Post," Licata saw a group of Japanese soldiers emerge from hiding in a cave. They thought the Japanese bugle was sounding out an American attack so they surrendered wanting to save their lives.

Sgt. Licata was decorated many times for his bravery, from the Purple Heart to the Bronze Star and beyond. His son Dave, himself a Vietnam veteran, says celebrating Veterans Day together always makes him proud of his father.

'He's a true hero. He saw a lot of combat. He risked his life for other people, for some of his fellow soldiers," said 1st Lt. Dave Licata.

On Veterans Day, and every day, Dave Licata says it's critical that communities across America support those who fight for our freedom. He's been watching the struggles of the most recent veterans returning from the Middle East.

"The fact that these young people in Afghanistan and Iraq have been away from their families, they're going through hardship, they've left their job which might have been a good paying job," he said.

Sgt. Robert Caivano is part of the new generation of returning vets. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 during the first wave of troops sent to war. He says it's an adjustment coming home, but feels well-supported.

"I feel the vets come home are being taken care of a lot better than previously. We have so many systems in place right now, to help us out coming back, getting us reacquainted with civilian life... It's a lot better right now," said Caivano.

From the newest generation of vets to the oldest, their wars vary greatly but there is one consistent theme; A love for the country.

The parade in San Jose began at the HP Pavilion at noon and ended at the Tech Museum at 1 p.m.

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