World War II veteran Eugene White never thought he would be celebrating his hundredth birthday with members of Central Missouri Honor Flight and the Patriot Guard at his side.
Members of Honor Flight and members of the community helped put together White's birthday celebration at Fulton Manor Care Center. During the celebration, White received a special surprise: 366 birthday cards from all over the country.
"It's a big surprise," White said. "People get excited over one person, and I didn't think I would ever be that person."
White served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He said his job was to rebuild bridges destroyed by enemy forces in order to get ammunition to the front lines in France and other parts of Europe.
White said serving in the Second World War was one of the most important contributions that he could make to his country.
"We should be willing to go where we are needed the most," White said. "That's part of what we had in France. When we landed on the coast of France, they had the foxholes dug already... there were three or four of us in each foxhole. We jumped right into them, and began shooting back."
White served 20 years total in the U.S. army. He was also a visiting pastor at Fulton Manor Care Center and was a prison minister as well.
White said he had never imagined what his hundredth birthday would be like, or that he would have the fortune of being surrounded by so many people who are grateful for the sacrifices he made in Europe.
"It's unusual for anyone to reach the age of 100," White said. "God left me here for a purpose. I am still trying to find out what that purpose is!"
"The main thing is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If it hadn't been for him, we would have nothing."
White said his commitment to Jesus is what has kept him strong for a lifetime. He said his secret to a long life involves patience and mindfulness.
"It's about being careful about where I go and what I do," White said.
Those who attended the celebration at Fulton Manor said meeting Eugene White on his hundredth birthday was truly a rare and special event.