World War II veteran shares insights on 100th birthday, during pinning ceremony
DeKALB – Forgive a guy, on his 100th birthday, for not knowing how to respond to gratitude that should have been shown about 70 years ago.
Tony Berg turned 100 Tuesday, and was honored not only for eclipsing the century mark, but also for his service during World War II, during a veteran-pinning ceremony at the Family Service Agency’s Club 55 at 330 Grove St.
“I’m not saying I didn’t see this coming, but it’s still overwhelming,” Berg said.
He was one of more than 30 American heroes pinned during the ceremony put on by FSA and Heartland Hospice.
Berg served in the Army from 1941 to 1945 and was one of the first ashore during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, according to account read by DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson.
As Berg shook his head periodically, he was showered with numerous accolades.
He’s pretty doggone sound of mind for a 100-year-old, but he still struggles to accept praise, after serving in an era when some soldiers didn’t return home to parades.
Tuesday’s ceremony made up for it, Berg said.
“And more, I think,” he said, “I never dreamed something like this would happen.”
Berg grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was a bricklayer and married his wife, Gwen, at age 27. She died when she was 92, their son and only child, Steven Berg, said as a host of officials read letters from legislators commemorating Berg’s birthday. President Donald Trump sent a letter, complete with a picture of himself.
Steven Berg is a Vietnam veteran, and said Tony Berg, along with his brothers, Robert and Harold, took the Honor Flight a few years ago. Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey was his guardian and pushed his wheelchair throughout the tour, Steven Berg said.
None of that seemed to hold a candle to Tuesday’s ceremony, however.
“He’s simply overwhelmed right now,” Steven Berg said. “He’s a modest guy, but he’s basking in the glory.”
Once the speeches ended, and before the photo opportunities, Tony Berg shared the key to living to be 100.
“Always do everything that’s right,” he said.