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A passing generation of WWII veterans

Joe Isley passed away on July 3rd, and final ceremonies were held for the 95-year-old at Fort Logan on Tuesday.

DENVER — Of the 16 million Americans who fought in World War II, only around 325,000 remains. 

At Fort Logan Cemetery in Denver, the formalities for a veteran's last ceremony are familiar as nearly 300 WWII veterans die every day in the United States. 

On July 3, it was 95-year-old Joe Isley's time. 

“This is the last of a generation," said Don Cardenas, a Vietnam Veteran himself. "Joe represents that." 

Cardenas met his neighbor Joe when he was snow blowing Don's driveway. Joe is old enough to be Don's dad. 

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“Who’s in there?" Thought Cardenas. "I opened up the canopy, Joe you’re my hero. Grabbed a hold of him hugged him, and I was going to kiss him, just a little guy, and Joe says put me down." 

Don put him down, but he didn't leave. He listened. 

The Vietnam Veteran asked the Navy Seabee about his service. Seabees were the guys who build military bases in the field during WWII. 

“Seabee guys, Joe, in particular, could make anything," said Cardenas. "Really nice handcrafted furniture to the detail, fix up hot rods, get 'em out of the scrapyard, the reason is Joe’s character was can do. That’s the motto of the Navy Seabees." 

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Don kept listening, and Joe ended up helping him. 

“I saw some things I can’t forget right now," said Cardenas.  "Joe helped me get through that, and I’ll never forget him for that." 

The last honors for veterans show gratitude for service. Cardenas knows there's a way to show it before the final goodbye too. 

“Take time," he said. "Take time to do that.”

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