100th birthday drive-by salute and celebration for WWII veteran | www.WDIO.com

100th birthday drive-by salute and celebration for WWII veteran

Updated: February 24, 2021 07:09 PM
Created: February 24, 2021 08:07 AM

Joe Berklich has done quite a bit in his 100 years. Raised four kids with his wife, Margaret. Worked for U.S. Steel for 43 years. President of the Hibbing Curling Club for 25 years. City councilor. Member of the Knights of Columbus.

Now, he enjoys games of solitaire, and his daily chores! "One day, I do the kitchen and bathroom floors. Then the next day I do the bedsheets. And then the vacuuming. I want to keep busy, and that keeps me going," he shared.

On Wednesday, a celebration for his milestone birthday included a parade and military program. And he was overwhelmed. "Have you ever seen all of this for one guy, one soldier?" he asked.

Berklich went off to war in 1943. He served in the Pacific. His three brothers were also serving their country. In fact, that's what lead up to the president granting his mother citizenship.

He shared a few memories of his service. "We saw nothing but jungles. One of my closest buddies was killed. He was a scout, and only 18-years-old, from Ely."

Berklich told the crowd that he was on a boat preparing for the invasion of Japan, when they got the news about the atomic bomb. 

Congressman Stauber's office said the flag flying over the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was done in Berklich's honor, and it will be delivered to his house.

At the end of the celebration, which included a cake, cards, and more, he said, "Thank you, I love you all."

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