We are lucky enough to have those men and women who served in the World Wars still among us. And it is crucial that we celebrate them, and honor them for their service and sacrifice for our country and freedom.
This neighborhood made sure their local WWII veteran would not feel forgotten or alone on his big day…
Charley Clayton is a World War II veteran who resides in Longview, Texas. The veteran lost his wife five years ago, and his neighbors Jack and Brenda Lenier stepped in to make sure he never felt forgotten on his birthdays.
Now, five years later, the party has turned into the talk of the neighborhood. What started out as a small birthday, is not a National Night Out-type celebration in which the entire neighborhood participates.
Apart from the residents of the neighborhood, representatives from the Longview police and fire departments also joined in on the celebrations.
“They started out just as a personal little birthday party,” Linda Haynie, Clayton’s daughter said. “When my mother died, they knew he was here by himself, and the neighborhood would try to get together and just have a little birthday party for him and just come in the house and just be real low key.”
Brenda Lenier serves as block captain for her neighborhood. She is in charge of the National Night Out parties, since that party also occurs in October, around the time for Clayton’s birthday, she decided to combine the two celebrations.
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In 2020, on Clayton’s 100th birthday, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert showed up with a certificate of recognition which was a special moment!
Clayton is humbled by the celebrations, he said, “I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to be honored with the people along with me … the people say things that I never heard before,” he said as he looked at all the people in attendance for his party. “I didn’t know they care about me.”
Clayton was born on October, 25, 1920, and joined the Army in August 1942. He was on leave in 1943, when he married his wife Arva. His daughter revealed that her father spent most of his time in the Mediterranean, in the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces as he was classified as medium maintenance.
He returned to the United States in December 1945 and was able to honorably discharged a week later. He was honored with numerous medals, including one for good conduct, a World War II victory medal, a pin for sharpshooting as well as an honorable service lapel button.
About his eventful life, Clayton says he has done it all. He said, “I’ve been a farmer; I’ve been a oil field worker … I’m a welder, electrician, mechanic, and I did all those things,” adding, “Whenever I got in the service, they’d ask me about this or that, and I’d say, ‘Yeah I can do that.’
“His whole life has just been being a patriot,” his daughter said. “Being a WWII soldier has informed his whole life.”
“I’m old enough that I never know when my time is ‘gonna be gone, but I’ll stay as long as God tells me to stay,” Clayton said sweetly.
We are so lucky that heroes still walk among us. Let us all honor Charley Clayton on his 102nd birthday and wish him a brilliant year ahead!
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