MIAMI (WSVN) – The Miami Marlins and Brightline teamed up to throw a special celebration for a South Florida veteran and longtime baseball fan on his 98th birthday.
It was a bright day for Carmin Yannotta. 7News cameras captured the moment he arrived at the Magic City in style: aboard a Brightline train, Sunday.
“I really can’t find words, OK? I just feel so wonderful,” he said.
The World War II veteran started his day riding to Miami with his family. He then got a tour behind the scenes at the Brightline facility.
“We monitor to make sure there are no delays,” said a Brightline employee.
Before long, he was off to his bigger birthday wish.
“Brightline and the Marlins. What can I say? I am just so thankful,” he said.
Yannotta and his loved ones later pulled up to loanDepot Park, where the Marlins play.
Once inside, Yannotta was gifted a team jersey and got the best seats in the house to watch the game against the Atlanta Braves.
The veteran was able to meet Marlins players who even brought him onto the field for a picture perfect opportunity where the gifts kept on coming.
“Growing up during the Depression, I never, never had a birthday present,” he said.
If the Great Depression was hard for Yannotta, the war was even worse. He said he didn’t know whether he would come back home alive.
“I was 18 years old in France, and we got shelled pretty well. My two buddies next to me didn’t make it,” he said. “I was scared to death, OK? I prayed and prayed and prayed.”
But Yannotta said he kept his faith.
“I knew then I had a special God looking over just me. Selfishly, it may sound, but I know,” he said.
All these years later, Yannotta has reason to look forward to another celebration — back on Brightline and maybe catching another baseball game.
“What could I possibly do to thank you all? I’ll be back. I’ll be back, that’s for sure,” he said.
Brightline named Yannotta conductor for a day. Jonathan Hopkins, Brightline’s vice president of mobility, gave him the tour of the facility and is himself a former U.S, Army captain.
The Marlins honored Yannotta as hero of the game.
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