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WWII Veteran turns 100
BIG SPRING, Texas- A cake is presented to Otho Henry, World War II Army veteran, for his 100th birthday at the West Texas Veterans’ Affairs Health Care System Aug. 23. Henry is currently the oldest veteran in care at the West Texas Veterans’ Affairs Health Care System Facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Erica Rodriguez)
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WWII Veteran turns 100

Posted 8/29/2013   Updated 8/29/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Breonna Veal
17th Training Wing Public Affairs

8/29/2013 - BIG SPRING, Texas  -- Big Spring Veteran Affairs Hospital witnessed a historic event this past weekend. World War II veteran Army Cpl. Otho Henry celebrated his 100th birthday Aug. 23.

Members of the surrounding area celebrated this momentous occasion with Henry. Randy Neugebauer, U.S. Representative, Texas 19th Congressional District, and Col. Kimberlee Joos, 17th Training Wing Commander, presented him with signed letters.

Other presentations included a folded flag from Goodfellow members, a card and coin from the Senior Enlisted Council, Top 3, and a coin of excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Coppi, 344th Military Intelligence Battalion command sergeant major.

Henry was born on Aug. 24, 1913, to John Henry, a grocery store owner and Vinnie Henry, stay at home mother, in Waelder, Texas. As a 28 year old, Henry enlisted in the Army during World War II. He became a corporal in the Quartermaster Unit, where he drove supply trucks providing fellow soldiers with food and ammunition while stationed in Wyoming.

After Wyoming, Henry deployed to England and France where he slept in a separate camp for African American soldiers and fought in desegregated companies. Henry took part in the D-Day landing in France and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany.
Henry found himself stationed in Germany when the war concluded and returned home in 1947.

The nation proudly welcomed home 16 million veterans at the end of World War II and according to statistics released by the Veteran's Administration, there are approximately 1.2 million living World War II veterans today. As one of those veterans, Henry and his family live on to share his story of World War II.

"Today my uncle is honored to see his 100th birthday as well as for his time in service," said Teresa Gandy, Henry's niece.

Gandy said she intended to have a private gathering in celebration of Henry's birthday and was surprised when the Community Living Center wanted to hold a party for this important day.

"I am so appreciative of all the people who came out to attend and celebrate his birthday," said Gandy. "It is still simply unimaginable to be here celebrating his 100th birthday."

Command Sgt. Maj. Coppi felt humbled to be in the presence of a World War II veteran.

"The importance of coming out here was to honor Cpl. Henry," said Coppi. "When we look at all the Army core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, he clearing exemplifies all of them."

Although Henry has lived at the CLC for the last two years, he spent the last 70 in his home in Louisa, Texas. Gandy said it took Henry a while to adapt but nothing's too hard for him.

"It's his personality to adapt," said Gandy. "Nothing is too difficult for him to adapt to, especially when it comes to his surroundings. He went from being here, feeling lonely and not having friends to having many and enjoying his stay here."

Henry is considered a distinguished gentleman at the CLC, and in the surrounding area as well.

"He is a legend," said Coppi. "It really doesn't matter what branch of service you're in because at the end of the day it is one team, one fight. We stand as children of those who fought in front of us and ahead of us and before us. In an essence of state they passed the baton to us, our generation and we'll pass it on to the next generation after us."

With a life spanning eight generations, Henry has paved the way for the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen of today to serve, protect and defend the United States of America.

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