Always a fan of the Cleveland Indians, Raymond Matwich Sr. of Shepherd of the Valley Howland was shocked when he learned he was going to New York City to attend the major league baseball All Star Game at Citi Field.
Matwich was among 30 veterans chosen by People Magazine's Tribute for Heroes campaign. Each veteran represented one of the 30 major league baseball teams participating in the All Star game. Nominated by his daughter and grandchildren, Matwich was selected to represent his favorite team, the Cleveland Indians.
''There were so many people and so many veterans from different wars,'' he said. ''They shook hands with me, and I didn't have to go to them, they came to me,'' he said.
Flanked by representatives from People Magazine as well as celebrities such as Neil Diamond and George Lopez, Matwich said it seemed all he did for five days was shake someone's hand.
During the trip, he and members of his family, visited the aircraft carrier, Intrepid where Matwich said his picture, along with pictures of the rest of the veterans chosen from around the country, hung on the wall of the ship. During a VIP reception on the Intrepid, Matwich said his picture also was shown on a large screen during the banquet.
The five day festivities included a private tour of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, a visit to Central Park, the United Nations building, Grand Central Station, the Home Run Derby and participation in the All Star parade.
''I didn't know how they were going to get me up on that float,'' Matwich said, ''but six men they were called helpers lifted me up in the wheelchair and they got me up there.''
During the parade, he was given bottled water and an umbrella to shade him from the bright sun. Prior to the All-Star game, Matwich and the rest of the veterans were called out on the field and were introduced during the televised pre-game ceremony. Matwich said he and the rest of the veterans were along the third base line with the American league players on one side of of them and the National league players lined up on the other side during the playing of the National Anthem. Matwich was presented with a flag that had flown at the Cleveland stadium Progressive Field by Indians pitcher Justin Masterson. He also was given a Cleveland Indians jersey.
''I went to all the Cleveland games I could when I was young,'' Matwich said. ''I even saw Bob Feller pitch.''
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 at the age of 21, Matwich saw combat missions throughout his service. He earned five battle stars and was discharged at the rank of corporal in September of 1945.
Now at the age of 92, Matwich continues to enjoy his life. Last winter he went snow skiing at Boston Mills with the Second Wind Dream Team from Shepherd of the Valley.
''It was spectacular,'' he said.