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Phoenix World War II veteran joins Trump for wreath-laying ceremony

Gregory Melikian (U.S. Air Force Photo, file)

PHOENIX – Longtime Arizona businessman and philanthropist Gregory Melikian was among the eight World War II veterans who joined President Donald Trump at a wreath-laying ceremony Friday commemorating the 75th anniversary of V-E Day.

Melikian, 97, of Phoenix, sent the coded message to the world that the Germans had unconditionally surrendered, earning him the nickname “the Peacemaker.”

The honorary commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base near Glendale was 20 when he sent the message.

The San Carlos Hotel owner and the other seven veterans had hoped to mark the Victory in Europe Day in Moscow, but those plans ended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“These heroes are living testaments to the American spirit of perseverance and victory, especially in the midst of dark days,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

Trump arrived at the memorial on a blustery morning in the nation’s capital, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump.

Melikian has made multiple trips overseas to war-related events, including a visit to France in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the truce that brought World War I to an end.

Timothy Davis, director of the Greatest Generations Foundation, which helps veterans return to the countries where they fought, said the veterans talked to him about trying to commemorate the day in Washington.

“Of course, we presented to them the risk we are facing,” Davis said.

“They said, ‘It doesn’t matter, Tim,'” and asked him to press ahead, saying they viewed the commemoration as “a blessing to all who fought, died and served in World War II.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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