Vietnam veteran honored with brand new mini-van

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A retired marine was surprised with a brand new van.

Vietnam veteran Sabino “Tony” Carona, who lives in Hollywood, was surprised Saturday with a brand new van. The ceremony took place at the American Legion Post 92, near Hollywood Boulevard and North 21st Avenue.

Several veterans and civilians were there — including Carona’s former squad leader, Mike Sulsona, who he hasn’t seen in years. Sulsona was flown down as a surprise to be part of the event.

He speaks lovingly about his longtime friend — and how deserving he is of the generous gift. “He’s the real deal. There was no gray,” Sulsona said.

Carona is dealing with the long-term effects of Agent Orange, a herbicide used during the war. Agent Orange has plagued millions of people with serious issues — ranging from genetic disorders to cancer.

Now, decades later, he found himself was in need of a new vehicle to help him get through everyday tasks — including taking his grandchildren to and from school.

The whole event was put into motion by Carona’s daughter, Natasha.

Natasha reached out to the Soldier’s Wish Foundation, an organization that offers help to veterans and active-duty military personnel — hoping they could help.

“His was totally broke down, and it was gonna cost too much to fix it,” said Volunteer Executive Director of Soldier’s Wish, Mark Ochsenbein. “This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for his daughter Natasha. She’s the one who put him in for the wish.”

Carona was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. But true to his character — remained humble throughout the whole experience.

“I’m very grateful to everybody that was involved in this. I’m beyond words. I can’t,” Carona said.

The Soldier’s Wish Foundation works with veterans, active military personnel and their families around the country — granting wishes and dreams to help those who keep us safe.

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