To help celebrate America’s birthday on Thursday, July 4, the Gabber is featuring Nicholas “Nick” Ventura, 97, of St. Petersburg for his Army service during World War II as a combat medic who saw action in the Pacific theater in two combat missions from 1944-45, including the invasion of Okinawa. “There were 23 of us medics. Only nine of us survived,” said Ventura. “I count every day as a blessing.” Ventura is also a Purple Heart recipient. On June 11, 2019, he participated in Mission 38 sponsored by Honor Flight West Central Florida, an area non-profit that flies veterans and their travel assistants to Washington, DC for free for a full day of touring the nation’s war memorials. Upon his return to the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Ventura was photographed in front of an American flag with volunteers dressed as a group called the Bomber Girls. Of the honor flight, Ventura said, “I thought it was wonderful; a beautiful honor.” For more information about honor flights, visit honorflightwcf.org.