Dozens of veterans from past wars came out Wednesday to watch the newest generation of heroes sail up the Hudson River for the 22nd annual Fleet Week celebration.

Walt Stinner , 61, of Bayville, N.J., served with the Marines during Vietnam.

"I see myself in them - 42 years later, I'm reminiscing," he said. "They're protecting our country - young, 18, 19-year-olds coming out of high school. I call them kids, but they're young adults."

Thousands of sailors and Marines lined the rails of several ships, including the USS Vella Gulf, the USS Roosevelt, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, which docked at Pier 86 and 88 on Manhattan's West Side.

The main attraction, the USS Iwo Jima, had a quieter arrival hours earlier - sliding in just after sunrise to catch the high tides.

Bill White , president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where the ships dock while they're in town, said Fleet Week is a great opportunity for the two generations to come together.

"Even the greatest generation recognizes that this generation of our nation's military is the best that this country has seen," White said.

Stinner's buddy, Tom Grimm, 62, of Bayville, N.J., said he gets emotional just seeing the young men and women in uniform serving on the ships.

"A tear comes to my eye just thinking about it," he said. "This is really a family."

Petty Officer Mark Meredith , a 24-year-old sailor from Spokane, Wash., said he loves chatting with veterans.

"The thing that stands out most is the long history that the Navy has," he said. "To see the vets who served before us is inspiring."

Seaman Michael Starre , a 19-year-old sailor from Winston-Salem, N.C., said he's humbled that veterans praise his service to his country.

"I try to learn from them," he said.

For more information on Fleet Week, visit