A World War II veteran was flooded with 55,000 birthday cards, just in time for his 96th birthday – a celebration he had been in low spirits about until now.
Duane Sherman of Fullerton, California, said the surprise was “heartwarming,” especially since he felt pretty lonely leading up to his big day, according to KCBS.
Sherman said he had never anticipated making it to 96 years old and hadn’t really felt like celebrating another birthday.
“All my friends are gone,” he said.
His daughter Sue Morse said every time he checks the mail, he feels even more disheartened when he realizes none of it is addressed to him.
“I wanted him to feel special on his birthday,” Morse said.
Ahead of the big day, Dec. 30, she posted to veterans’ groups on Facebook asking anyone out there to send him a birthday card in a bid to cheer him up.
“We should all be very proud of their service and honor them in any way that we can,” she said.
Sherman explained he was a chief sonarman aboard the USS Lamson during World War II.
In 1944, a kamikaze plane hit his ship, and 30 of his shipmates lost their lives.
“The flames from the crash, engulfing the bridge,” Sherman recalled.
He ended up earning a Purple Heart for the mission, and he still has shrapnel in his back today.
Ten Navy chiefs proved his contributions weren’t forgotten by driving from San Diego to Fullerton to celebrate his special day.
“With U.S. Navy, we're a brotherhood and sisterhood of chiefs, and that spans his entire lifetime. So he still has friends, and we're all here to celebrate his birthday with him. So I hope that it's a happy one,” said senior Navy chief Jerry Green.
In the meantime, Sherman said he’s looking forward to his next birthday, when he thinks he’ll finally finish opening all the letters.
“I’ll have a hell of a time reading them,” he said.