Mount student accompanies WWII vet to D.C. memorials

November 10, 2015
Newburgh, N.Y. -

Navy veteran Louis “Wiso” Diaz, left, and Mount history/political science major Michael Corcoran of Highland Mills, N.Y., right, shake hands with Bob Dole at the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Diaz and Corcoran visited several veterans memorials on Saturday, November 7 through the Honor Flight program.

For Mount Saint Mary College senior Michael Corcoran of Highland Mills, N.Y., a history/political science major, accompanying a World War II veteran to memorials in Washington D.C. was a hands-on history lesson with a living legend.

The Honor Flight program touched down in the Hudson Valley on Saturday, November 7, and Corcoran was paired with Navy veteran Louis “Wiso” Diaz. Diaz joined about 60 veterans on the Washington D.C.-bound flight to visit memorials built in their honor, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Iwo Jima/United States Marine Corps War Memorial.

Upon landing in D.C., the group was met with cheers and salutes from appreciative civilians and fellow veterans, Corcoran explained.

At the National World War II Memorial, Corcoran and Diaz shook hands with former senator and former presidential candidate Bob Dole.

“It’s was great to volunteer on this project,” said Corcoran. “A lot of World War II veterans are passing away, so it’s good to give back to them, to show them appreciation. This generation in the 21st century still knows that they did, appreciates what they did. And future generations will as well.”

But what had the biggest impact on him, Corcoran said, was Diaz himself.

“He’s very lively and he loves to dance,” Corcoran noted. “He told me really interesting stories of his time in the military and his life in general. He gave so much for the country, and veterans like [Diaz] are very humble – that’s one of the reasons they’re the Greatest Generation.”

Service runs in the family: Corcoran is the son of associate nursing professor Ann Corcoran, who has accompanied Mount nursing students on four separate humanitarian trips to the Dominican Republic. Last spring break, more than a dozen Mount School of Nursing students assessed residents’ health and provided care to families in one of the poorest areas of that country.