World War II veteran and Peru resident Donald Johnson turned 100 years old in November, and the celebrations included a personal message from President Joe Biden.
Johnson’s family notified the White House of his birthday and military service, and received a letter back from Biden thanking and wishing him a happy birthday.
“The selflessness of veterans like you who answered our Nation’s call to serve during World War II defines the true character of our greatest generation,” Biden said in the letter. “It is a privilege to wish you a happy 100th birthday and to thank you for your inspiring service in the United States Navy.”
Johnson also was honored with letters from people all over the country and a photograph on the Good Morning America Smuckers’ jar. Johnson’s daughters put his name in for the Smuckers’ jar recognition, in which people who turn 100 years old can get their face printed on a jar of Smuckers’ jelly.
Johnson said he “feels pretty good” about celebrating a century, noting that “not many people hit 100.” He said one of his favorite things to do is spend time with his family.
“I was married for 70 years, my wife passed away in 2014 in November, so there’s been a big hole in my life since then. But, I’ve got four daughters and one granddaughter,” Johnson said. “Let me tell you, the lid on the toilet seat was always down, because if it was up, I got hell for it.”
Johnson celebrated his 100-year milestone with a big birthday party, complete with food, karaoke and spoons, one of Johnson’s favorite games. His four daughters and one granddaughter were in attendance and planned the party, along with other relatives and many friends.
Johnson said he served in the U.S Navy for three years. He was first assigned to a minesweeper in Washington and the South Pacific, Johnson said. He was then reassigned to a larger minesweeper to invade North Korea and establish a military occupation immediately following the end of World War II, he said.
After his time in the Navy, Johnson and his family returned to Amasa, Michigan. He was then employed by the MA Hannah Company in the local underground iron mines. In 1974, a job transfer took Johnson and his family to Peru, he said.
Don continues his membership at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Peru and participates in the annual church Senior Citizens’ Luncheon in October. Don has lived in Peru for the past 50 years and now enjoys spending time with family, reading the newspaper and doing crossword puzzles, he said.