STOCKTON (CBS SF) — Not even a pandemic could quash the birthday bash for Maj. Bill White, believed to be the oldest living U.S. Marine, who celebrated turning 105 on Friday.
When asked how it feels to be 105, Maj. White, who fought and was wounded in the battle for Iwo Jima said, “Feels just as good as it did at 104.”
Maj. White received a Purple Heart for wounds he suffered from an exploding grenade on Iwo Jima but he went on to serve through both World War II and the Korean War, retiring from active duty in the 1960s.
“He was in Shanghai before World War II and the Japanese invasion and all that; Iwo Jima — got hit. Blown up with a grenade. Recovered from that. Spent a total of 30 years in the Marine Corps. Just an amazing guy,” said Tony Walker, communications director for The Oaks at Inglewood, an assisted-living facility in Stockton where Maj. White has lived for the past several years.
For his family members who have not been able to visit much because of the coronavirus, this celebration was special.
“It’s very heartwarming … it does get to you that there are so many people that love him and appreciate him for his service,” Maj. White’s daughter Mary Huston said.
In February, Maj. White made national headlines after what came to be called “Operation Valentine’s Day,” where a social media campaign resulted in more than 500,000 cards and gifts being sent by well-wishers from around the world, including a special note from NASA and President Donald Trump.
At the drive-by festivities, Maj. Bill embraced this birthday milestone and indicated he was already looking forward to the next big celebration.
“Right now I’m trying for 106,” he said. “One at a time.”
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