Birthday parade hosted for 96-year-old WWII veteran

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero
Published: Updated:
Water Hanhivara is a veteran who celebrated his 96th birthday on Feb. 8, 2022. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A World War II veteran got a big surprise for his 96th birthday.

Walter Hanhivara walked out of his home late Tuesday morning figuring he would celebrate quietly but was surprised by a big birthday parade hosted by firefighters.

Hanhivara said he expected to go to lunch and for a bike ride.

“Nothing like this,” he said, “It’s a good thing I showered.”

He cleaned up nicely for his photo opportunity with the birthday signs, decorations and candles. He got an extra candle for good luck.

“A young guy who was in World War II 18 years old and this is the climax in the final stages of my life. To experience this a memory I’ll probably be thinking about every singe day for the rest of my life,” he said.

Walter enlisted in the Navy when he was just 17 and served on a tank landing shop.

He’s got lots of tales to tell his family, friends and other veterans he met on this special day.

“I think all of us will always remember the war we were in. It’s something you can’t forget. Especially when you get old you almost live it every day just through memory and it’s inescapable,” he said.

His granddaughter Marcy Haskins said the response was incredible and overwhelming.

“It’ll take him hours to open them and it’ll provide hours and hours of enjoyment this is probably one of the best days he’s ever had,” she said.

“It goes far beyond thank you,” Hanhivara added.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.