Greensburg centenarian honored by American Legion
Paul Yeneral will celebrate his 100th birthday Oct. 30.
But to him, it’s just another Tuesday.
Surrounded by friends, family and fellow veterans, Yeneral was recognized during a ceremony Monday at American Legion Post 981 in South Greensburg.
Yeneral said he was surprised by all of the attention but thanked everyone who came out in his honor.
“I never questioned the fact that he would be 100,” his nephew Tom Yeneral said as his uncle laughed and cracked jokes with the Post 981 members who came to honor him.
Born in 1918, Yeneral is a lifelong resident of Greensburg. He lived in the same house for 93 years before moving to his current residence at the St. Anne Home.
He is the son of Anna Kurella and Philip D. Yeneral, and brother to the late John B. Yeneral of Greensburg and the late Joseph Yeneral of Irwin.
Yeneral attended Greensburg High School and enlisted in the Navy in 1945, during World War II. He went on to serve on the USS Amphion after being stationed in Pittsburgh; Newport, R.I.; Sampson, N.Y. and Tampa, Fla.
He was discharged June 4, 1946, as a seaman first class. Yeneral received an American Theater Medal and a Victory Medal.
“It’s not every day, and far in between, that our country and American Legion gets the chance to honor an ageless veteran of World War II,” Post 981 Commander William Burns said.
The American Legion will celebrate the founding of the national organization in 2019 -- yet another 100th birthday-- which added to the excitement of Monday’s festivities, Burns said.
“It’s all about the veterans; it’s all about family,” he said, adding it means a lot to the post to be able to recognize a veteran such as Yeneral.
State Rep. Eric Nelson, a retired Marine, also attended to present Yeneral with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which recognized Yeneral for the “wisdom and experience that have contributed to the enrichment and betterment of succeeding generations.”
Nelson, along with South Greensburg Mayor Kevin Fajt, thanked Yeneral for his contributions to the community.
“Thank you even more for everything you’ve done for this nation,” Nelson said.
Yeneral worked with the Department of Defense in Pittsburgh for 36 years, inspecting naval facilities and later working to write training manuals.
He is a member of Post 981 as well as a member of the Knights of Columbus.
The centenarian -- who went to renew his drivers’ license Monday before arriving at his birthday party -- drove his car, a Prius, up until a few years ago, family members said.
He also flew planes throughout his retirement, owning three recreational planes he would fly out of the airport in Unity on Sundays.
“I just enjoyed flying,” Yeneral said of the freedom he felt taking to the skies.
That sense of adventure and desire to learn has been with him his entire life, said his niece, Lin Porter.
“He’s an inspiration,” she said.