The fact that the men and women who served in the World Wars are still alive is a blessing. And it is crucial that we recognize them for their service to and sacrifice on behalf of our nation and freedom.
On his special day, this community made sure the local WWII veteran wouldn’t feel abandoned or forgotten.
A veteran of World War II, Charley Clayton, lives in Longview, Texas. Five years ago, the veteran lost his wife, but his neighbors, Jack and Brenda Lenier, made sure he never felt forgotten on his birthdays.
Five years later, everyone in the neighborhood is talking about the party. What began as a small birthday celebration has evolved into a neighborhood-wide event akin to National Night Out.
Along with neighborhood residents, the festivities included participants from the Longview police and fire departments.
“They started out just as a personal little birthday party,” Linda Haynie, Clayton’s daughter said. “When my mother died, they knew he was here by himself, and the neighborhood would try to get together and just have a little birthday party for him and just come in the house and just be real low key.”
Block captain for her neighborhood is Brenda Lenier. She is in charge of the National Night Out events, and since Clayton’s birthday falls in October, she decided to combine the two celebrations.
On Clayton’s 100th birthday in 2020, the U.S. It was a special moment when Rep. Louie Gohmert arrived carrying a certificate of recognition!
Clayton expressed his gratitude for the celebrations by saying, “I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to be honored with the people along with me … the people say things that I never heard before,” he said as he looked at all the people in attendance for his party. “I didn’t know they care about me.”
Born on October 25, 1920, Clayton enlisted in the Army in August 1942. When he wed his wife Arva in 1943, he was on vacation. His daughter revealed that because he was designated as medium maintenance, her father spent the majority of his time in the Mediterranean with the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.
He returned to the country in December 1945, and a week after that, he was able to receive an honorable discharge. He received many medals in recognition of his service, including a lapel button for distinguished service, a pin for sharpshooting, a victory medal from World War II, and a medal for good conduct.
Clayton claims to have accomplished everything in his illustrious life. “I’ve been a farmer; I’ve been a oil field worker … I’m a welder, electrician, mechanic, and I did all those things,” adding, “Whenever I got in the service, they’d ask me about this or that, and I’d say, ‘Yeah I can do that.’
“His whole life has just been being a patriot,” his daughter said. “Being a WWII soldier has informed his whole life.”
Clayton kindly remarked, “I’m old enough that I never know when my time is ‘gonna be gone, but I’ll stay as long as God tells me to stay,”