VANCLEAVE — A World War II veteran on the Mississippi Coast celebrated his 100th birthday over the weekend.
Talmage Byrd of Vancleave was born in 1921 and joined the U.S. Navy when he was 20 years old. He said he was influenced to become a member of the armed forces after seeing the country devastated by the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, WLOX-TV reports.
His first post was near the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, then he moved on to Astoria, Oregon, where he worked to repair combat-damaged ships. In the 1950’s, Byrd was stationed in Guam.
Byrd’s military service inspired generations of his family to join the armed forces. His son, Larry Byrd, joined the Air Force in 1965, serving more than 20 years maintaining aircraft like B-52’s before retiring in 1986. His grandson, Chris Rowell, served in the Army beginning in 2007 and was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, for 13 months.
Larry Byrd told the television station military service is “like a family tradition.”
“It’s always important to serve your country,” he said. “We’re glad to do it.”
Close friends and family of Talmage Byrd gathered to celebrate his 100th birthday at the Vancleave HUD Community Center on Sunday. Byrd was showing off the military memorabilia in his room. But he said the birthday felt no different than any other.
“To me, it’s just another day,” he said.
His family said even at 100, he still remains active. Nearly every Friday night, he goes out dancing.
“He’s been here so long and hopes he’ll be here a lot longer,” Larry Byrd said.
“He’ll outlive us all,” his grandson, Chris Rowell, joked.