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99-year-old US WWII vet's mission: Visit every state
May 18

By CHRIS CAROLA
Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A 99-year-old World War II veteran who regretted skipping the chance to meet some of the nation's last Civil War veterans in 1940 is on a mission to visit all 50 states so people who've never met a WWII vet can finally meet one.

Sidney Walton, of San Diego, met Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany on Friday, making it five governors the New York native has visited since launching his ``No Regrets Tour'' in March at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The visit to Cuomo's state Capitol office followed statehouse meetings over the past three weeks with the governors of Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

``I just love it,'' Walton said when asked about his recent itinerary.

Born in 1919 on Manhattan's Lower East Side to Jewish immigrant parents from Eastern Europe and raised in Brooklyn, Sidney Walovnick later changed his last name to Walton. A year before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1941, Walton passed on a chance to meet Civil War veterans at an event in Manhattan's Central Park. He said it's his one regret in life.

Walton was preparing to be sent to Europe with his infantry unit in late 1944 when he broke his ankle during combat training. Instead, he was sent to Asia, where he served in the China-Burma-India region. He was discharged in 1946.

A retired chemical engineer whose wife died 35 years ago, Walton is accompanied on the state capital trips by son Paul, 62, his caretaker and housemate in San Diego. The younger Walton said he sold his hotel business several years ago so he could take care of his father full-time.

Since then, the two men have visited 30 countries and attended bucket list events from Mardi Gras to the Super Bowl. The elder Walton even has his own website _ GoSidneyGo.com _ which features photos of him with people he has met on his travels, including Dalai Lama and Britain's Prince Harry.

``It feels so good to do this for my dad,'' Paul Walton said.

Before meeting Cuomo in his office, Sidney Walton, who has to use a wheelchair, was given a tour of the Assembly and Senate chambers. Gazing around at the former's ornate surroundings, he exclaimed, ``I love New York.''

After meeting behind closed doors with the Waltons, Cuomo emerged with the two men and presented the veteran with the Governor's Medal for Public Service. Asked by the governor which state is the most beautiful, the native New Yorker who summered in the Catskills as a youngster didn't hesitate.

``New York!'' The globe-trotting nonagenarian said.

The Waltons plan to be at the Central Park Boathouse Monday evening, when the 99-year-old will give visitors an opportunity to do something he failed to do 78 years ago: meet one of the last surviving veterans of a long-ago war.


By The Associated Press, Copyright 2018