Hundreds honor WWII veteran on his 103rd birthday: ‘I could go another 103′
SUN CITY, Ariz. (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) - World War II veteran Gino Mei has had birthdays worldwide, but Thursday’s celebration in Arizona may have been one of his favorites.
Arizona’s Family reports hundreds of people came out to his street to give the U.S. Army veteran a 103rd birthday celebration he won’t soon forget. They did a drive-by salute to honor him.
“I feel great. I feel like I could go another 103,” Mei said.
People from all over the area joined in, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, veterans’ groups, police departments and more.
Before the parade, he was made an honorary Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office posse member.
Then it was outside where hundreds of people saluted him for his service and amazing life.
The 103-year-old said he has seen a lot over the years. He was in Italy with his parents when World War II broke out. He was drafted into the Italian Army when he was 18, but when they found out Benito Mussolini was going to side with Adolf Hitler, Mei was shipped to America. That’s where he joined the U.S. Army and went back to Europe, where he fought the Germans.
Mei said one time, he was put in charge of a mission to get across the river because the officers said it was too dangerous. There were 200 soldiers in his team. They were all decoys and helped.
“I got the Bronze Star in the war for that effort,” Mei said.
The U.S. Army veteran said he was recuperating in France and thought he was coming home, but then Gen. George Smith Patton said every abled-body soldier had to fight. So, Mei went to D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest.
Besides the Bronze Star, he received the Purple Heart and several other medals. He stayed in the Army for nearly five years.
And when it comes to living a long life, Mei said it’s thinking of others.
“I always enjoyed doing things for other people,” he said.
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