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WWII veteran celebrates milestone birthday

By JOCELYN BRUMBAUGH | The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa. | Published: October 5, 2019

EBENSBURG, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Thursday was far from just another birthday to Michael Saxon.

It was a milestone.

Saxon, a Carrolltown native and current resident at Rebekah Manor in Ebensburg, turned 102 years old and celebrated surrounded by his family, friends and fellow veterans.

From 1942 to 1945, Saxon served in the U.S. Army during World War II and earned a Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars and a World War II Victory Medal.

Although Saxon hasn't spoken much about his military service over the years, he was known to visit the Carrolltown American Legion daily until he moved into Rebekah Manor a few years ago.

Saxon's oldest of six children, Nancy Saxon, said her father worked at a saw mill and in local coal mines. She described him as a good-hearted man and a workaholic.

"He was just always there," said Nancy Saxon, who moved in with her father after her mother, Emogene, passed away in 1988.

Along with his work ethic, those closest to Saxon noted his sense of humor. Family members visit him daily, never missing a meal with him. He has eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Ann Price and MaryAnn Ramires, Saxon's aide and nurse with 365 Hospice, said Thursday was the best they'd seen Saxon's spirits in weeks. He smiled as he heard certificates and citations read from local legislators and elected officials, opened gifts and saw his American flag birthday cake.

"He's a character," Ramires said, agreeing with Price's recognition of Saxon's quick wit.

Saxon's birthday celebration was attended by the American Legion and VFW groups from Ebensburg, as well as every branch of Carrolltown's American Legion, including its Sons of the American Legion, Auxiliary and American Legion Riders.

Ron Weakland, Post Commander of the Carrolltown American Legion, said the post wanted to show support and celebrate Saxon, an honorary lifetime member.

"I think it's amazing," Weakland said of Saxon's birthday milestone.

Saxon's children said he has good days and bad days and were excited to celebrate the occasion as well.

"We're just so grateful we've had him this long," said Saxon's daughter, Pam Roland.

As far as the secret to reaching 102, Saxon was pretty straightforward.

"Just keep on walking until you get to it," he said. "How else are you going to get there?"

Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @JBrumbaughTD.

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