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Valley veteran takes flight for 100th birthday

Posted at 5:22 PM, Dec 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 23:28:23-05

A Pearl Harbor survivor celebrated his 100th birthday by flying over the Superstition Mountains on Sunday.

The 99-year-old will turn 100 on Monday but was surprised with the trip a day early.

"I thought it was great. It brought back all the memories," said Navy veteran Jack Holder.

"Pretty rusty but it was a great flight," he added.

Holder was hosted by the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders and Grounded No More, a local nonprofit that takes former services members for rides in old military aircrafts.

"He grabbed the stick and flew for about 10 to 15 minutes," said the group's founder and CEO Tony Anger.

"We didn’t do any real aerobatics, but he was just loving it. Saying he hadn’t done that since he was a kid," he added.

After surviving the Pearl Harbor attack, Holder flew in over 100 missions including the Battle of Midway.

Holder has received dozens of medals and commendations honoring his service. 

When asked about his secret to staying young, he said exercise and alcohol. 

"Good heart exercise and two scotch and sodas every night," he said. 

It's unclear how many Pearl Harbor survivors remain. However, some estimate there are less than 100.

The official death toll from the Dec. 7 1941 attack was 2,403, according to the Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau.