View Full Version : Full honors for WWI veteran at 106

12-26-04, 08:29 AM
Full honors for WWI veteran at 106

By Jeremy Milarsky Tribune Newspapers: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Sometime between his physical exam and his dentist's appointment Wednesday morning, a horde of friends, reporters and federal employees mobbed Homer Anderson as if he were a 106-year-old rock star

For some people, he is much more than that.

Anderson, who will turn 107 on Friday, is one of only four known surviving World War I veterans in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (news - web sites), and the folks at a local VA clinic threw him an early birthday party.

When Anderson was wheeled into the clinic lobby after an early-morning doctor's appointment, he saw two sheet cakes, plates of frosted cookies and a ceiling covered in balloons.

"When you're 107 years old, you start to feel old," he said. "And I'm in that age."

He's also at the age where his war memories, stories of the Great War, have become hazy. Anderson remembers training in the balloon corps for the U.S. Army. Military leaders used tethered balloons for observation, but they later decided balloons were too dangerous.

"They decided it wasn't a good idea," said Anderson's daughter, 84-year-old Bernice Ramsey of Connecticut.

Anderson, a retired civil servant from Pennsylvania who lives in Pompano Beach with a full-time nurse, also remembers serving on the ground and in the air and being shot at.

"Most of our battles were really short," he said. "We were afraid we were going to get shot, but we didn't."

Anderson can walk for short distances and can hold a conversation, although he asked visitors to repeat themselves a few times Wednesday. Until about two years ago, he played golf regularly, and even survived a broken hip four years ago, said his nurse practitioner, Eileen Diaz.

"He's doing well," she said.

Richard Delano, a 54-year-old Vietnam veteran, walked through the crowd at the clinic to shake Anderson's hand. "It's an honor to meet him," Delano said.

For Anderson, the honor is still being alive.

"I'm just surprised that I'm as well as I am and able to be around," he said.