PORT HUENEME, CA, UNITED STATES
PORT HUENEME, Calif. - The mayor, residents of Simi Hills and retired and active duty military gathered at the Simi Hills Retirement Living in Simi Valley, Calif., Feb. 6 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Gary Garrison.
Garrison served in the Navy as a yeoman second class during World War II. He first came to live in the assisted living facility in January 2006 and has since made a lasting impression on many who have come to know him.
"I brag about him to everybody who comes to the home," said Community Director Pietro Sozio, Simi Valley. "To be 100 years old is awesome."
While Garrison was humbled, happy and very surprised to have everyone visit him, those in attendance expressed that this celebration was more than just a celebration of life, it was a way to pay homage to a man who paved the way for our country and the rest of the world and a chance to honor a hero who played an essential part during a time of uncertainty and war.
"If it wouldn't have been for people like him when he served, I would not have the opportunities that I have," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Reina Reyes, NOSC Ventura County. "We are following them, continuing the path of freedom for our country. It's important to know their stories because there won't be any World War II veterans much longer and we will lose this part of history."
Though Garrison enlisted in United States Navy Reserve May 30, 1942, his memories of places he visited and the people he met along the way are vivid and his proudest accomplishments are still fresh in his mind.
"I was always proud of myself that I could learn so much and join the Navy," said Garrison. "I worked at a land-based net command and was responsible for harbor/port control. We set nets in San Piedro, Calif.; Cairns, Australia; New Guinea and Port Hueneme, Calif., to keep out submarines and the ports safe."
After a long night thinking about his 100th birthday, Garrison proudly told stories of his time in the Navy and how he was grateful he was able to serve.
Representative of the American Legion Auxiliary, Lyndsey Hale, the veterans' community liaison for VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, explained that every day is Veterans Day in hospice care and noted how quickly we are losing our World War II veterans.
According to Hale, the youngest World War II veteran is about 85 years of age this year if he or she joined at 18 years of age and the nation is losing close to a thousand every day.
Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Joel Felder, NOSC Ventura County First Class Petty Officers' Association president, was one of the many sailors in attendance.
"By visiting our veterans in hospice, we demonstrate our commitment and camaraderie to those who have taken the oath of service, worn the uniform of the United States and sacrificed to ensure the freedom and security of generations to come," said Felder. "Through the simple gift of our time, we are saying that we remember, we care and we stand beside you as fellow service members. It's an honor, not just for us, but for the whole Navy and we should all appreciate the sacrifices he has made for the Navy and our country."
NOSC Ventura County, located in Port Hueneme, Calif., conducts training, administration and execution of Navy Reserve policy for approximately 1,200 reserve sailors in 39 administratively assigned units.
For more information about Naval Base Ventura County at http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrsw/installations/navbase_ventura_county.html or learn more about NOSC Ventura County’s current events at https://www.facebook.com/NOSCVenturaCounty/info.
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This work, Celebrating a veteran's 100th birthday, by CPO Ryan arnoldussen, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.