When a World War II veteran turned 102, his neighbors hosted a party to celebrate his big day, ensuring he didn’t feel forgotten. The elderly man had no idea how much his neighbors cared about him.
Charley Clayton wasn’t expecting his neighbors to honor him with a beautiful celebration. He had spent all his life serving his country, and his friends and family knew how big of a patriot he was.
Clayton lived in his house on Marguerite Drive in Longview, Texas, surrounded by friendly neighbors. They never made him feel lonely after his wife passed away, and he had to live alone.
The Patriotic Young Man
The veteran was born on October 25, 1920, and became part of the U.S. army at 21. He was a young and energetic boy who wished to serve his country.
Clayton underwent military training in different parts of the U.S., including Utah, Oregon, and Michigan. Almost a year after joining the armed forces, he went for a short break and got married. With his wife, Arva, Clayton welcomed their daughter, Linda Haynie.
Clayton served in the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces and remained overseas for most of his service, during which he also participated in World War II. He received a victory medal and other awards after returning in December 1945. He was respectfully laid off a week after he arrived in the U.S.
Clayton’s birthday party became a huge annual event when the Leneirs began celebrating it with the National Night Out party.
Clayton recalled that he never shied away from accepting a new task during his service. He was always ready to do whatever he could, even if that meant playing the role of an electrician, mechanic, welder, or even a farmer.
The veteran lived a respectful life after his discharge and spent a good time with his family. Everything was going well in his life until Arva passed away almost five years ago.
Losing his wife meant Clayton had to spend the rest of his life alone. The once-energetic man had never imagined living without his partner, but he was left with no other option.
Fortunately, Clayton was surrounded by caring neighbors who didn’t allow him to feel lonely. Along with her husband, Brenda Lenier, who hosted annual neighborhood parties, stopped by Clayton’s place on his first birthday after Arva’s death and made his day special.
The Kind Gesture
Clayton’s daughter said the Leniers didn’t do anything too special on her father’s birthday, but their gesture made him feel good. Haynie recalled:
“The neighborhood would try to get together and just have a little birthday party for him.”
Soon, Clayton’s birthday became a huge annual event when the Leneirs began celebrating it with the National Night Out party, which included guests from law enforcement authorities.
His Special Birthdays
Clayton’s 100th birthday became a memorable event
“His whole life has just been being a patriot.”
On Clayton’s 102nd birthday this year, the residents of Marguerite Drive came together in his house along with officials from the city’s police and fire departments.
Clayton said he felt honored every time his neighbors gathered to celebrate his big day. He was happy knowing how much people respected him. He added:
“I didn’t know they care about me [sic].”
“I’m old enough that I never know when my time is ‘gonna be gone, but I’ll stay as long as God tells me to stay,” Clayton said while expressing how grateful he felt. Meanwhile, his daughter Haynie felt his neighbors were too kind.
When netizens learned about Clayton’s 102nd birthday celebration, they wrote lovely messages for him. Here are some of their comments:
“Happy Birthday, Mr.Clayton. God bless you! And thank you for your service to our country.”
― (@Norma Mattheiss) October 30, 2022
“I salute you, sir. Thank you so much.”
― (@Carol Goodwin Ware) October 30, 2022
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“Happy birthday, Mr. Clayton! May the dear Lord bless you and keep you safe! Thank you for your service!”
― (@Carol Huffine) October 30, 2022
Another WWII Veteran
On September 6, 2022, another WWII veteran, Bill Cordes, celebrated his 100th birthday in Wimberley, Texas. Turning a hundred years old was a massive achievement for Cordes. “I feel good, really,” he said.
Cordes recalled that he had joined the armed forces when he was 20 and was later posted to Italy, where he spent a tough time.
Unfortunately, Cordes passed away on October 21, leaving his family devastated. No one knew the man would pass away almost a month after celebrating his 100th birthday.
Living for a hundred years means seeing the world change before your eyes. These veterans must have gone through so many unique experiences and would have dozens of stories to tell.
Click here to read another story about the oldest living WWII nurse who celebrated her 108th birthday in Georgia wearing a sparkling crown.