World War II veteran, 100, gets Fourth of July surprise

(WTHR photo)
WWII Veteran Honored in Cicero
100 year old veteran honored

CICERO, Ind. (WTHR) - He has seen a lot over the last 100 years, but the Fourth of July held a couple of surprises for Thomas Yetman.

Yetman served in the war that was supposed to end all wars. On Thursday, he was honored for that service.

As a WWII veteran, Yetman has seen a lot, but he never expected to see the reception he got Thursday.

"Oh no, oh no. Oh my goodness, what a surprise," he said. "A little different than a golf cart."

That was his mode of transportation the last time he was in the Cicero Fourth of July parade. This year, he rode in style in a 1977 Chevrolet Corvette.

"Sir, I would like to thank you for your service," said a fan on the parade route, offering her handshake.

Thank you, thank you very much," he answered. "Much appreciated."

Make no mistake about it, Yetman was the star of this show.

He was trained to be a gunner in the 454th Bomb Squadron of the Army Air Corps. A problem arose dealing with his immigration from the Isle of Man. He came from the small country south of England when he was just two years old.

"He was called to service and sent to Colorado to do basic training and he realized he had never become a naturalized citizen, so they rushed him down to the government building there to swear him in as a citizen and then rush him back to book camp," son Raymond Yetman told us.

Seems they handled immigration a little differently back then.

"Thank you. Boy, this is a big crowd right here, isn't it? Oh my goodness," Thomas said, as his car negotiated the parade route.

This parade will ultimately take him to three generations of Yetmans, relatives who have traveled from California, Texas and from around Indiana, including three children, 5 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

"Dad, that's great," Raymond says as his dad's car makes its way past the family's position on the route.

They all made the trip because of Thomas' 100th birthday, which they'lll celebrate on Sunday.

"His birthday is on the 8th," the driver tells spectator.

"You'll 21 or 22," asks the spectator.

"Yeah, when I went in," Thomas said with a hearty laugh.

"He's very social," said Raymond. "Loves people, loves to talk, loves to joke."

And it's on day's like today that he knows just how fortunate he is.

"It was a terrible war. The things that you see and hear about is hard to believe, but it cost a lot of good men," Thomas said.

It's why we cherish the good men from the greatest generation who are still with us.

Thomas learned Thursday that he is getting a special gift from a company that goes out of its way to help those who have served our country. Aspen Dental is working on getting him a new set of dentures, a gift for his 100th birthday.