East Texas Air Force veteran receives outpouring of support for 100th birthday

Watch KLTV 7 News at 10.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 11:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - One East Texas veteran celebrated his hundredth birthday Wednesday at the Watkins-Logan Texas State Veterans Home in Tyler.

A week ago they put out a call to the community, the veteran wanted one hundred birthday cards for his big day, and this afternoon he received them. All of them.

Balloons, cake, presents, all things you’d expect at a birthday party. What made this year unique was the more than one thousand birthday cards that were sent to WWII veteran Archie Thomas.

“You are a blessing to your country and your family. Big birthday hugs from Iowa,” read one card.

They were sent from all over, total strangers sharing birthday love and thanking Thomas for his service.

“Everywhere from Maryland, Minnesota, we’ve gotten Florida. Of course Texas, East Texas community has just been great. We’ve gotten them out from California, everywhere,” said Troy Turner, the on-site representative for Veterans Land Board.

Thomas served from 1942-1945 as an Army Air Force Mechanic Gunner and earned a Purple Heart for his service.

“Humbling I would say in the least. To think that that many people think about you and care for you,” Thomas said.

He spent the afternoon reading cards, enjoying cake, and being with family and friends. David Handorf is Tomas’ step son and says, “He’s getting a lot of attention, a lot more attention than just family. He’s part of a generation that’s almost gone.”

Tiffany Deschler used to be his nurse and has known Thomas for almost three years.

“He never expects anything, he never wants for anything, he just wants everything to go really good,” she said. “Always in a good mood, never has a bad day, never brings anyone down. He’s always singing and always wanting you to join in singing.”

All afternoon people were pulling up to their administration building to drop off cards and gifts. Thomas shared one story with us, “I was shot down over Germany. I was on a ten man bomber crew and of the ten men, I was the only one that was fortunate enough to be able to get out of the thing alive,” he said. “The rest of them went down with the airplane.”

Senator Bryan Hughes presented Thomas with a Senate Resolution and a Texas flag as well.

“Wow. It’s a real outpouring. People still care. It’s really nice,” Handorf said.

Copyright 2022 KLTV. All rights reserved.