MADERA, California (KSEE) — A very happy birthday to a Central Valley veteran, who turned 100 years old.
World War II hero Aurelio Lopez lives in Madera, there family and friends honored him with a special ceremony Saturday.
It was nothing but love and cheer for Lopez on this special day, as he celebrates a major milestone.
“We honor you today and we say congratulations on your 100 years,” says the honor guard in Madera.
The American Legion Post 11 in Madera honoring Lopez at this special century celebration.
A birthday not many live to see.
“I feel very good and thanks to the Lord our God,” Lopez expressed.
Lopez was born in Mexico in 1919 and moved to Madera at a young age.
He is one of 10 children. Lopez’s two younger sisters, one 96, the other 86, both joined him at this celebration.
The family says Lopez never really talks about his time during WWII, but he remembers what he went through.
“A lot of suffering but thanks to God I’m here,” says Lopez.
Lopez says he was in the U.S. Army about three years and was a part of the Battle of the Bulge, his efforts finally recognized, receiving a Bronze Star just last year.
“He went across on the Queen Mary and landed in Liverpool, England and from what I understand they left from Dover, he was not at the front of D-day but he was there a few days after D-day,” says Donald Lopez, Aurelio’s youngest son.
Lopez married his long-time love Lupie before joining the Army.
They were married for more than 60 years, she passed in 2004.
”We had a beautiful marriage, not too many people can say that,” Lopez recalls.
They had three children, Robert, Doris and Donald, all standing behind him here.
”It’s amazing to have our father still around with us, that he’s now just turned 100 and we feel very fortunate,” Lopez’s son expressed.
Together, Lopez and his wife have lots of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great greats.
The family says Lopez’s health is in great condition because he exercises every day.
“He’s been through a lot, done a lot and we love him very much,” says Donald Lopez.