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Sun City community holds drive-by birthday for 103-year-old WWII veteran

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 01:25:53-04

SUN CITY, AZ — Family and friends organized a drive-by parade as a special salute to a Valley World War II veteran who turned 103 years old Thursday.

"Happy Birthday, Gino,” said police over the megaphone of a patrol car.

Thursday was the perfect day for a parade in Sun City.

"I want to recognize this gentleman. He's 102 years old. It's an achievement. The fact that he served is another great achievement,” said Parade Participant Jim Dunn.

And, as of Thursday, Gino Mei is 103.

Several cars lined up and drove by the WWII veteran's home.

"We need to revere these people. I mean they did so much. This man did so much during World War II,” said parade participant Diana Strahl.

Before the celebration outside, Gino sat with ABC15 inside, telling us about his birthday energy.

"It feels great. It feels like I can go another 103,” said Gino Mei.

The Army veteran was an infantryman. Among several ribbons and medals, he earned two Purple Hearts.

While courageous to fight, for his country, Gino basically gave-up trying to avoid the limelight shined on him for his 103rd birthday.

"I love it. To be very honest with you, I like privacy more than anything. You know what I mean,” added Gino Mei.

Police dazzled the soldier with circles. Car enthusiasts pepped him up. Family and friends stood by his side.

"The first time he saw me, he said, 'Where is your husband?' I said, 'Thank God I don't have one.' He then decided 'This is the girl for me,'” said Gino’s wife, Nora Mei.

Nora and Gino have been married 50 years.

She and Gino's son thought the parade was great for someone representing our country's greatest generation.

"There are not many guys that could say they did what he did. World War II veterans are dropping off day by day,” said Gino’s son, Ken Mei.

Like Gino, who was surprised, the parade was more than his wife and family could have ever imagined.

"I even said, 'Oh it is too hot guys, don't do it.' 'Oh no, it is all planned. We are going to do it.' So, here we are. I am just in shock. I love it. I can't believe what's going on,” added Nora Mei.