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Community gathers to celebrate 100th birthday of WWII veteran

Posted at 10:29 PM, Sep 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-10 10:26:17-04

The retirement community clubhouse was packed in Gold Canyon, as friends and family gathered to wish Terenzio "Ted" L. Giannone a happy birthday.

But not just any birthday, the World War II Veteran, turned 100 years old.

"As you can see, and as I can see wonderful people, wonderful life," he said.

A color guard led the crowd of more than 100 in the the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of God Bless America, and members of the Patriot Guard took Giannone on his very first motorcycle ride.

"It was a thrill," he said.

Giannone was born in 1922 in Brooklyn New York and can still remember fondly the cobblestone streets he grew up on.

"I started out with cobblestones in Brooklyn, and the milkman used to come in the morning, and you hear the horse clobbing and the steel wheels screeching," he said.

"Then one morning I didn't hear the screeching or the wheels, and only heard the horse, so I said what happened? I went out and he had put tires on the back of the milk wagon. Smart man," Ted recalled as from then on, he said, he knew the world was changing.

Ted went on to serve in the United States Navy Reserves in 1940. He was a turret gunner on a Grumman TBF Avenger, an airplane, fighting over the South Pacific during World War Two.

"You look for white puffs from the mortars," he said remembering his time in combat. "All I can say is that the comradeship, the heroism, devotion to duty, it was all apparent."

"We have to think about those that were, are, and are still there, and support them."

Giannone earned numerous medals for his service, reenlisting several times before retiring from the Navy, honorably discharged as Chief Petty Officer E-7, in 1965.

Setting his sights even higher, Ted worked for Grumman Aerospace and NASA during the Apollo program.

"Well NASA, my favorite thing that I can remember is meeting the astronauts," he said.

Giannone says he still gets a thrill from space, and keeps up with the latest rocket science from new explorers like Elon Musk.

"The car battery guy. He came in with the SpaceX program and he flies these things like they're bullets! And brings them back and uses them again!"

From the Philippines to Iran, Ted's service and career took him around the world, but nothing he says compares to the love of family.

He was married to his late wife Marry for 72 years and is blessed with three children, two boys and a girl.

"Trust in your friends and your family. Family to me, that's the beginning of everything."

When asked the secret to living to be 100 years old, he says good health for one, as Giannone still gets on the exercise bike.

"Every day, regularly. It's a regimen. That's what keeps me going. I get on that bike you know, get those legs going. So yeah, you got to keep active."

While he does have a caregiver, Ted says he still gets around pretty well and has a valid driver license.

But more than health, he says a good heart, mind and spirit are just as important.

"Love for your family, being honest and truthful and have faith. That's what I would suggest to anybody, especially young people," he said.

Healthy and surrounded by family and friends, Ted is looking forward to many birthdays to come.