ASHTABULA — World War II veteran John Pildner had his trip to Hawaii canceled but the group organizing the event did not forget him.

John Pildner, 94, of Ashtabula Township, excitedly opened a box of gifts from the organization that put the event together but had to cancel due to the coronavirus.

“It would have been a great trip,” PIldner said.

He was a part of the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1945 fighting the Germans during one of the major conflicts of the war as the Allied soldiers fought through Belgium and France on their way to Berlin.

Pildner was invited on the trip for World War II veterans who would have traveled together on a chartered plane, but the trip was placed on hold due to he coronavirus epidemic. He said the organization planned to have doctors and nurses to attend to the soldiers and family was not to be a part of the trip.

The 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II participation was reduced due to the virus, PIldner said.

“In consideration of the current COVID-19 situation in Hawaii, and to help assure the health and safety of the veterans of our Greatest Generation, the extremely difficult decision was made to further limit attendance to the Official Commeoration Ceremony on September 2nd to WW II veterans who live inthe state of Hawaii,” stated a letter sent to Pildner.

Pildner was drafted on April 12, 1944, and eventually traveled with the 75th Division to England arriving on Nov. 1, 1944. He was a mine sweeper and participated in the Battle of the Bulge at The Ardennes and fought in a variety of battles in Belgium.

The organizing committee is attempting to coordinate a global livestreaming of the event on Wednesday in Hawaii, the letter states.

The event was created by the Department of Defense to h onor vetterans and the theme this year will be “Salute Their Service, Honor Their Hope” is the theme of the event.

A 17-plane “parade” will be part of the celebration. To view the event interested parties can go to the

PIldner has attended numerous World War II battlefield tours plus a 75th year celebration of the Battle of Bastogne last year in Belgium. He said numerous families from all over the country have helped honor his service.

He received a box on Monday afternoon that contained a t-shirt, Hawaiian shirt, a certificate and a medal honoring his service to the United States.

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