DALLAS — Only 1% of America’s World War II veterans are still alive today, and one of them who lives in Dallas just celebrated a huge milestone.
C.C. Collie celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 6.
“It feels like 99,” Collie laughed. “I don’t feel any different.”
Born in Little Rock, Ark., Collie entered the Navy soon after enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania in September of 1941. The day he graduated with a degree in economics is the same day he got his Naval assignment.
“When you put on the uniform, you’re ready to give it all. Those of us who came back, we were just blessed and fortunate,” Collie told WFAA.
After training on the east coast, Collie was sent to the Pacific on the U.S.S. Blue, where he served three years as a Naval lieutenant. His ship survived three typhoons and several kamikaze attacks, which sank many other ships around him.
Collie said, miraculously, every sailor on his ship made it home alive.
“I was lucky and I was blessed by the good Lord I guess,” he said.
When the Japanese surrendered on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Collie’s ship was anchored 1,000 yards away where he watched through a pair of binoculars. Japan’s surrender officially put an end to World War II.
“We accomplished our purpose and that was very fulfilling,” Collie said. “You couldn’t describe how great it made you feel.”
Collie served a total of six years in the Navy before spending the rest of his career in the banking industry. To celebrate his service and his birthday, he was honored by the local Rotary Club last week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President George W. Bush sent messages of congratulations, and the White House included a note of gratitude for Collie’s life of service.
Collie said he’s incredibly blessed to be alive to see this day.
“Not everybody went through the war and came out alive and not everybody lives to be 100,” Collie said. “So there are two things the Lord took care of me on. And he gave me a great family.”
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