World War II veteran, Joe Bell, shakes hands with runners as they pass his home in San Jose, Calif. (Bay Area News Group/ABC News)
San Jose, Calif. (ABC) -- World War II veteran Joe Bell was watching and cheering on runners near the end of their race in San Jose, Calif., in full military uniform. Instead of passing by him, runners began going over to the 95-year-old mid-race to thank him for his service.
Bell, who was a corporal in the Army from 1942 to 1946, said he wore his uniform on Sunday to inspire runners and was taken aback by the support and the gratitude he received.
“They showed a lot of love to me, and they recognized me,” Bell told ABC News today. “I liked that.”
San Jose Mercury News reporter Julia Prodis Sulek filmed the touching salute after looking out her window the morning of the race.
“I saw all these runners going off course from the street onto the sidewalk and wondered why. So I looked further and saw Joe set up out there. The runners were going up to him to thank him for his service,” Sulek told ABC News today. “It was really beautiful.”
The annual 8-kilometer race benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation, which among other things, funds scholarships for military veterans.
Michelle McCarthy from the foundation said she is incredibly proud of both Bell and the runners who saluted him.
“The runners were leading by example by going out of their way to recognize [Joe],” McCarthy said. “We support a cause that helps veterans, so to see it in action is something else.”