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Base representatives celebrate World War II centenarian

Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander, spends time with World War II veteran, Carl Robertson on his 100th birthday, Aug. 14, 2014, Lompoc, California. Wing leadership and members of the base honor guard made the trip to neighboring Lompoc, to celebrate the 100th birthday of fellow brother-in-arms and World War II infantryman, Carl Robertson, at the Lompoc Comprehensive Care Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shane Phipps/Released)

Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander, spends time with World War II veteran, Carl Robertson on his 100th birthday, Aug. 14, 2014, Lompoc, California. Wing leadership and members of the base honor guard made the trip to neighboring Lompoc, to celebrate the 100th birthday of fellow brother-in-arms and World War II infantryman, Carl Robertson, at the Lompoc Comprehensive Care Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shane Phipps/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Wing leadership and members of the base honor guard made a trip to neighboring Lompoc, California to celebrate the 100th birthday of fellow brother-in-arms and World War II infantryman, Carl Robertson, at the Lompoc Comprehensive Care Center, Aug. 14.

Robertson entered the military as a private in 1943 and soon after took part in landing on Utah Beach, which was the right flank of the Allied beach landings during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

"We celebrated the 100th birthday of a true American hero," said Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander. "His actions, and those of his brothers-in-arms, really set the stage for the Allied victory and secured a much better world for us all. To help celebrate this special day while representing the men and women of Team-Vandenberg is incredible."

For those closest to Robertson, the base's gesture of support is something that will not soon be forgotten.

"The honor guard gave him the full treatment and the colonel came out," said Carl Robertson, Jr. "I know my dad really enjoyed it and was very touched by the base support. I got pretty teary eyed myself because it was very emotional."

In addition to surviving one of the deadliest wars in American history, Robertson Sr. also endured risky cancer treatment at the age of 95.

"The doctors told me they didn't think he was going to survive," explained Robertson's daughter, Cherri Hoffman. "I told them he was a World War II vet and he's got the lungs and heart of a young man. He had the surgery and survived. Now, we've all been able to celebrate his goal of making it to 100."

Though Robertson has long since separated from the military, the event proved to be an opportunity for VAFB leadership to pay tribute, while reminding him that a veteran is never alone.

"We should all recognize and honor heroes like Carl," said Clark. "He served during a very difficult time and it's important to show him, his family and all the other residents here, that we still care for our veterans."

Despite being a man of few words, Robertson was able to convey his appreciation through those he holds dear.

"It's amazing the Air Force would show him respect in this way," said Hoffman. "I know he was blown away by it because I kept telling him, 'dad, they're here for you,' and he would just excitedly say - 'for me?'"

That feeling of excitement proved to be mutual, as base leadership coveted the opportunity to meet a man of such experience.

"To be a part of Carl's birthday celebration is an absolute pleasure," said Clark. "He and his family were appreciative that we came out, but honestly I felt like the honor was truly mine to simply meet someone like Carl, who played such a significant role in world history. I wanted to thank him for all he's done and the joy he brought me on his birthday."