"I won’t forget going under the bridge there in San Francisco on a real cool morning. I was standing out there on the deck and taking it all in," Louie Schwartz said.
"They had a big thing going on for us on the docks out there. There were bands playing, people hollering and women screaming, and it was just something else," Winston Kilgo said.
For many vets, it was the first time they had set foot on American soil in three to four years. The sights and sounds were almost foreign to them after several years of fighting.
"I never will forget when we went under the Golden Gate Bridge. Flags were flying, and people were standing on the bridge waving to us. We went into harbor, and I never will forget the scene. It was the most beautiful colors I had seen in my life," Alton Cadenhead said. "For two years, all I had seen was Marine Corps green, but there were people lining the harbor with all kinds of colored clothes on. It was a beautiful sight. We were back in God’s world. Look at the colors."
While some veterans around the country came home to towns that looked very different than when they had left, vets from Rome returned to a place that hadn’t changed much.
"At that time, Rome was pretty much a small town because they had been limited in growth because of the war effort," George Slickman said. "I didn’t leave a town of 30,000 to come back to a town of 50,000. It was still pretty much the same place that you left."
Although just being back on American soil was a thrill for the veterans, the real joy came when they finally reached home — a moment Bob Bennett will always remember.
"It was about 3 o’ clock in the evening when I got home. My daddy and my brother worked at the Summerville Cotton Mill. It was about a mile, and I walked to it. I walked down there, and I’ll never forget (how) my daddy was a weaver and he always wore overalls and his face was just like the sun shining when he saw me."