I am 102 years old, alive and well. I am an American WWII vet, retired Major in the Army Air Corps. as Flight Surgeon. There was recently an article about me in the local news paper, Tribune-Herald, here:


Self described as "I'm the oldest person I've ever met."

(disclosure: input to reddit performed by grandson).

My Proof:

http://imgur.com/Hu80NNO http://imgur.com/Rh4DPPL

EDIT: Afterword From Grandson

Thanks for everyones participation. Grandpa is finished answering questions; he was tickled by all the questions and public interest in his life. This went way bigger than we ever expected & we really appreciate the Reddit community for playing along.

I have known my grandpa since I was a baby all the way into my "middle age" years, for which I feel very fortunate to have known him this long. So many of my friends' grandparents already passed away long ago, many while my friends were still children. Our family has been lucky to have him and grandma with us for such a long time.

Many of the questions and comments highlight grandpa as war hero and focus on his life as a veteran (understandably since that was the focus of the newspaper article and how I presented the IAMA). Some Redditors also may be romanticizing the WWII period, perhaps from war movies and other mass media, and convey a sense of macho toughness onto my grandpa.

The interesting thing about this is that grampa does not view himself these ways (eg. as a war hero or Army tough guy), nor does his close family. I think the reason is that the time he spent in the military was < 5% of his actual lifetime, and this period was all before his grandchildren and children were born. WWII is not a common topic for discussion with him, and being a vet is not as strong source of personal identity for him as having been a physician. We see the heroism of this part of his life because the patients he cared for were mostly poor and middle class people.

This different perspective Reddit provided actually made the IAMA even more interesting to me because of how so many people relate to his military past, and let us reflect about him in a slightly different light.

Thanks again Reddit!

Comments: 1913 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

102_years_wwii2500 karma

"No one asked what's that best thing that ever happened to me... you know what it is? how I got into Medical School! I was taking a course in physical chemistry, and after I took the final exam the prof called me into his office and he told me I was the only one of 50 guys that I got a perfect score on exam. He was on the admission committee of the medical school. He said he was going to get me into medical school. So he did. It was a very an event that made me feel very good, it turned out not to be important because I was admitted to 3 medical schools. St. Louis, Duke and Temple." (He went to Temple).

102_years_wwii1566 karma

He just said "I don't know why you want so much information from me."

102_years_wwii1196 karma

Nap time. Maybe he will answer some more questions in a few hours.

Sveenee1057 karma

No questions just wanted to say thank you for your service and for helping me to keep my freedom.

102_years_wwii1925 karma

he said " Who's saying that?".. we then explained you are a stranger, and he said "You are a very nice fellow."

eltony007893 karma

I just want to say Thank You, I'm a 21 years old frenchman and I'll celebrate Christmas in Normandy with my family who lives there since maybe five or six generations. My grandfather was a child when Normandy was liberated. I read a lot of books about WWII and for sure I'll go soon in Omaha Beach to feel the liberation's atmosphere, and in the American cimetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.

PS: Sorry for my English, still learning! Have a nice Christmas.

102_years_wwii875 karma

(his brother landed on Omaha beach in Normandy and lived through it)

SedaleThreatt811 karma

What was your reaction to hearing about the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

102_years_wwii1772 karma

"At the time we felt that was the thing we had to do to settle war, but afterward it was a dreadful thing because it did so much damage and killed so many people in Japan."

macutchi739 karma

Whats it like to be a Hundred and two? Any advice for a young(ish) man?

102_years_wwii1410 karma

"That's a good question."

Our-Year681 karma


102_years_wwii1832 karma

"The guys from...uhh.. the Beatles!"

madanan655 karma

102! That is amazing! Congratulations on, well, living! Also, thanks for agreeing to doing this.

Since there will probably be many questions about the past, here is a different one: What are your plans for the future?

102_years_wwii1897 karma

"To die and to donate my body to medical science."

102_years_wwii583 karma

Hi.. We are here in the living room chatting. If you have any questions for him let us know and we will see what he says!

102_years_wwii575 karma

what is earliest president you remember: "Wilson" favorite president ":Clinton" Why? "I think he is a very smart man." how do you feel about Hillary? "I think she is a smart woman"

Reilly968416 karma

Hey, congrats on living such a long life. I'd like to ask, what is the most heartwarming thing you witnessed during your time at war and also the most heroic? It would be interesting to hear of both from someone who must've experienced so much.

Edit:question tweaked

102_years_wwii709 karma

Heartwarming: "I did an an appendectomy aboard a troop ship under not the best conditions because I did not have all the best tools that I was accustomed to using while I operated. They had an infirmary and examining table but no operating room and only basic instruments. He survived the operation, would have died otherwise." (side commentary that the convoy of 70 ships slowed to 7 knots during the surgery).

Most horrific: He was part of a medical unit, but did not see action. He did mention this though: "I went through two bad storms, one in Okinawa (Typhoon), one in India (Hurricane)."

Reilly968300 karma

Wow that's sounds amazing, it sounds as though you saved a great number of lives through your service. I'm also glad to hear you did not see much action, you have my respect for your service Major.

102_years_wwii506 karma

"That's nice of him to say that."

NolanPower413 karma

What new technology was most impressive?

102_years_wwii1010 karma

"Heart transplant, which I had nothing to do with."

animalcrackers1393 karma

Thank you for your service. This is a cool AMA. What's the one thing you miss most about 'the good old days?'

102_years_wwii1093 karma

"Listen. Getting old is not the greatest thing in the world. There is nothing to look forward to. It is not a happy situation. That's what I miss... The Good Old Days! I miss what I was able to do 50 years ago.. or 60 years ago. Playing golf. I enjoyed playing golf. It was my best sport of all. I was better at Golf than football, baseball or basketball. Handicap 15." "Age 92 was the last time I played golf."

TheRealDavidF359 karma

Before America entered World War II, what were your thoughts on the war?

102_years_wwii687 karma

"I was favorable. After all you had to know what they were doin'... Hitler was doing to the Jews. I would have to be in favor of the war."

Jgarza361340 karma

Wow 102? You look amazing for your age sir!! What was your greatest (if any) memory of being in the service?

102_years_wwii504 karma

"That's a difficult question. My memory isn't as good as it should be. I can't think of anything outstanding."

PyjamaDog323 karma

What was one of your highpoints and lowpoints in the war if you don't mind me asking? Thanks, Matthew

102_years_wwii691 karma

highpoint: "While I was traveling from India to Okinawa when peace was declared with Japan."

lowpoint: "That's a difficult question. I was happy to do what I was doin'. There wasn't much I felt bad about. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. "

nwsreddit301 karma

What do you like to do for fun?

102_years_wwii823 karma

He watches Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

102_years_wwii290 karma

lots of questions.. taking a little break... keep asking and will see if he is willing to answer more later.

man_bear_puig287 karma

What is the single biggest difference in politics between then and now?

102_years_wwii551 karma

"There are a million things I can think about."

Steven9669220 karma

Do you have a cellphone, if so what kind?

102_years_wwii513 karma

[he does not, his wife of 88 does] She said "AT&T" kind. "I come home and find 4 missed calls from numbers I never heard of" she said.

LumpieSpacePrincess216 karma

Thanks for your service! Do you have any advice for someone pursuing a medical career? What did you specialize in after the war?

102_years_wwii470 karma

"No." and "Surgery."

CountOrlokIV198 karma

How did you pass time on the boats?

102_years_wwii341 karma

"Nothing. Well, you know the American Army...but the British were worse than the Americans, but they separated the officers from the enlisted men. We [officers] traveled like tourists. Had our own rooms, own dining areas. The soldiers were not treated as well and were sleeping on hammocks in the lower part of the ships. The ship I crossed the Atlantic with was an american ship, held about 500 soldiers and officers. "(He traveled on a British shim from North Africa to India)

Angry_Tanker188 karma

As a Vet myself, thank you for what you did, know that we will always remember and honor those who came before us. No questions, just a thanks and a Merry Christmas :)

102_years_wwii200 karma

"Thank you."

102_years_wwii162 karma

Front Page! Sorry for the delay in responses. After his nap we had an internet outage due to lightning on The Big Island (where he is living). I type this on my phone. I read aloud some of the more recent comments/questions and recorded the audio to transcribe later.

moanerific161 karma

Hello Sir, as a fellow veteran, thank you for your service.

Were you drafted or did you volunteer for service?

102_years_wwii383 karma

"I volunteered. But you know, in those days if you don't volunteer, if you are enlisted you go in as a Private not as an Officer. The wisest thing to do get your officer rating was to enlist, and that's what I did." (went in as a 1st Lieutenant. )

moustachaaa151 karma

What is/was your favourite decade to have lived through?

102_years_wwii279 karma

"I have no idea." (he may be getting a little tired, but that's what he said)

Will_Jew_for_food147 karma


102_years_wwii283 karma

"No. I always respected him and thought he was a good president. I was only a child, but I thought he was good."

AUGA3129 karma

Would you do it all over again?

102_years_wwii191 karma


jamholes127 karma

Thank you for service! As someone who has led such a long and full life, what is your earliest memory as a child? What do you think the biggest change in the world has been between your childhood and now?

102_years_wwii320 karma

earliest memory: "I was planning to go to medical school as a child. My mother said 'Jerry, I want you to go to Medical school'. 5 years old."

316trees117 karma

What's your general opinion on the US involvement in Iraq/ Afghanistan?

Also, how do you spend your time? Before my grandfather passed away, he played a lot of cribbage (apparently it was a popular game in WWII) and volunteering.

102_years_wwii252 karma

"I don't want to discuss that."... "Doing daily Cryptoquote in the news paper"

Spiro_Agnew105 karma

What was the drunkest you've ever gotten?

102_years_wwii312 karma

"Well... that was when I was in college, New Years Eve... it was a city... a party at a... uh.. a place near the bridge over the Hudson river. Before you got onto George Washington Bridge. They served drinks. We celebrated New Years Eve there and I was a Sophomore in college and everybody got drunk. It was after prohibition."

fredbnh89 karma

Hats off to you sir. You obviously have been doing things right in your life. Where were you stationed? When did you cycle out of the AAC? How long did you practice medicine after that, if you did?

102_years_wwii187 karma

"I was stationed first in Mass. for 6 weeks, then sent to Florida near Agusta for a while, then Tampa before I went over seas. North Africa for 2 months, then India for 1.5 years, Okinawa 9 months. Then home out of the Army" "I left April 1946".

"I practiced for 35 years after the war. I was 70 when I retired."

fredbnh68 karma

It must have been nice to get back home after serving in all those far away places. Thanks for your reply, and have a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

102_years_wwii113 karma

"Very nice."

RufusMcCoot81 karma

What do you think of the internet? Pretty cool, isn't it?

102_years_wwii254 karma

[I enjoyed this answer a lot]

"Oh yeah! The Internet... it IS pretty cool. Sure it is! I don't know anything about it but... I know ABOUT it... but I don't DEAL with it! But I think it's a wonderful thing, don't you think so?" [I agreed and asked what it does] "Well it obtains all this... on that.. uhh... [points at my iPhone] that we would never be able to get any place else. There are lots of things... I don't USE the Internet but I wouldn't know how to use ... what do you call that thing? [points to my laptop]... a computer."

SplendidZebra81 karma

what do you eat, you must tell me! i want to be your age!

102_years_wwii225 karma

"Oatmeal with cream and sugar [for breakfast EVERY day]. Ribs" [editorial: He eats pretty much anything, and lots of butter and fatty foods... probably not the best model to follow. We don't know how he made it this far eating the way he does.]

102_years_wwii135 karma

"Spam!" [but he thought you meant while in the army because of the context of the other WWII questions]

Toxikomania63 karma

What is the question you hope we ask and what is its answer?

102_years_wwii113 karma

"Hope you ask how much influence my success in [my medical] practice my wife had. She had a great deal to do with it because she is very socially minded and makes friends with a lot of people. She didn't work but we had friends... and doctor friends...and other friends that were patients ...and things like that. She was helping me improving the practice and getting a large business."

KoCrazy53 karma

Who was your best friend growing up? What's your favourite story with them?

102_years_wwii141 karma

"It was a guy named Mel Kurtz, and there was story (chuckle)... the one that bugs me the most, Mel was a little shady kind of guy. He would do things that people shouldn't do and wasn't the most honest person to deal with. And I came home from the Amy and I had to buy a suit to wear. SO he takes me down town... takes me into a suit store, a store that sold men's suits. And for $85 I bought a suit. About to two days later I see a guy walking down the street wearing the exact same suit on! Just curious, so I ask him where he got his suit. He got it in one of those cheaper stores. I asked what'd you pay? $22.50. I paid [for] the same suit $85, and this was my best friend who got me into this. I still don't know whether he got a kick-back, but along the way he was still my friend until he died. He was still my friend but I knew what he was, a little off the narrow path... a little uhh... you had to be careful what you did with him.

I actually met him when I was 8 or 9 years old when we moved from East Orange to Newark. His father knew that I was his friend, and along the way I am going to medical school, and his father was very careful that he and I stayed friends. I consider him a friend even though I had a couple bouts with him. At one point I stopped talking to with him for a year, but I said 'what the hell.'. you know we enjoyed each other so I took what he gave me. He didn't give me too much trouble. When we were little we sold raffle tickets to buy equipment for the baseball... everybody got a pair of shoes, but he talked me out of the shoes. He cheated me out of them, more or less."

102_years_wwii52 karma

He is in bed now, but I will keep posting a few stragglers from the backlog using the audio I recorded earlier while the internet was down. Thanks for all your questions, it has been fun and he really enjoyed it. Maybe he will entertain some more questions in the morning!

stug4147 karma

When you were young did you know any American Civil War veterans?

102_years_wwii85 karma

"No, but there were some around, still"

Slutguts41 karma

Favourite ice cream flavour? My bets on something gross, nutty and pecany

102_years_wwii82 karma

"Not chocolate, I like chocolate but it was not my favorite. I can't remember my favorite but it is not chocolate, maybe coffee…and butter pecan, I like that!"

crosenblum36 karma

I salute you for your service!

Thank you!

102_years_wwii51 karma

"Thank you."

desker24 karma

I know a 102 year old woman. Need a friend?

102_years_wwii101 karma

"Hahahah…yeah, listen…I said so much some of which I already spoke about. i have a wife, she is 14 years younger than I. She is the best thing I ever... marrying her was the best thing I ever did."

DJPelio23 karma

Is it true that once you turn 100, you get a signed letter from the president?

102_years_wwii38 karma

[True, he just received one from Obama recently. ]

oneofus33319 karma

I noticed that you are holding a hawaiian newspaper; were you born and raised there? If so, did you experience the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

102_years_wwii30 karma

[He is not from Hawaii, just living with children there.]

jyochem9418 karma

God bless you for your service, and thank you for doing what you've done all those years ago and for now coming here to share your life stories as they are requested.

So many things I want to ask, but I'll try to narrow it down to these:

  • As a Flight Surgeon, was there ever a time where you were required to serve as a pilot, and if so, (OBLIGATORY QUESTION) were you ever involved in a dogfight, and what was it like?

  • Also, what is the one thing you are most proud of from your time serving this great nation?

  • Lastly, what was the absolute craziest, most unbelievable, and most memorable moment during your time serving?

Thank you again so much for protecting not only America, but for doing your part in protecting the world as a whole.

102_years_wwii35 karma

"No" (never served as a pilot. "I saw no action. Well, the plane crashes were not serious (two)"

changeofpacecar17 karma

Have you and your grandson heard of Honor Flight? It is a program that flies WWII veterans to see the WWII memorial in Washington DC. All the expenses for the veteran is paid for (anyone that accompanies the vet must pay their own way though).

I went with my grandfather, who is also a WWII vet, and we had a great time.

102_years_wwii21 karma

[Thanks... have not heard of it, but the flight from Hawaii would probably kill him. He doesn't much want to make a long haul trip.]

miker3559113 karma

Did you know Richard Ronca?

102_years_wwii25 karma


miker3559112 karma

Just wondering because my grandfather was a WWII veteran as well but congratulations! We appreciate you!

102_years_wwii42 karma

"There are a lot of WWII vets still alive. I was 30 years old when I went into the service"