World War II vet given hero's sendoff from White River Junction VA

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 4:47 PM EDT
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A World War II vet released from the White River Junction VA Medical Center received a big sendoff and it had nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic.

In the age of social-distancing, large birthday parties have temporarily been put on hold. But Tuesday was a special celebration for a very special veteran. It's not everyday that a World War II veteran is serenaded as he leaves the hospital, especially one turning 102-years-old. But that's exactly what happened to Bernard Mowrey, as health care workers lined the hallways.

"He's experienced so much history in his time and we are honored to be able to serve him for everything, including his medical needs. It's just amazing to be able to celebrate a little piece of his birthday before he goes home," said Becky Rhoads, the medical center's assoc. director.

Outside, more faculty and staff gave Bernie, as he is known here, a round of applause as police and firefighters stood at attention.

"We were absolutely honored to be invited to participate," said Hartford Police Sgt. Karl Ebbighausen.

Only a fraction of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are still alive. And Mowrey's 102nd birthday comes during unprecedented times. "I wish I could shake his hand," Ebbighausen said.

With more than a century behind him, Mowrey is a man of few words, though he did give a two thumbs up.

Adam Sullivan: Do you feel good?

Bernard Mowrey: I feel good.

"It's wonderful, it's terrific," said Carol Harris, one of Mowrey's 10 children. She says her dad has three basic principles for living a long life. "One is good work -- he worked on heavy machinery most of his life. And good food -- he was raised on a farm. And good women."

Mowrey's actual birthday is this Saturday. Family members are not planning on throwing him a party. They say they will wait until it is safe and then throw a birthday party for everyone in the family.