Despite COVID-19, World War II veteran gets a big 100th birthday party

three nurses and man in chair
100-year-old Henry Erwin celebrated his birthday on May 2 at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home.

Henry Erwin of Waynesboro, Georgia, served in the Merchant Marine during World War II hauling cargo and oil.

“He wanted to do his part in the war but he was colorblind, so he went to the Merchant Marine,” explained his daughter, Michele Erwin.

Michele has been his caregiver for the past 10 years but when he had a bad fall in June, “I came to the realization that I am not strong enough anymore — it was time for him to go where he had better help.”

In August, Henry moved to the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, joining just a few other World War II veterans there.

With his birthday approaching, it seemed clear that Michele would not be able to join her father to celebrate due to the nursing home being closed to visitors as a result of COVID-19.

However, the “Blue Goose” had a party planned for him just the same. He was still able to celebrate his 100th birthday on May 2, with his daughter speaking with him over Zoom.

man watching ipad
Michele Erwin got to speak with her father on his 100th birthday over Zoom.

“It was better than anything we could have done at home,” Michele said. “They did it up right for him. We are so proud. They had cake, ice cream and balloons, and he was the center of attention. He loves attention. He likes to be doted on, and he knew we were there Zooming with him. It was just a great day.”

Now that Henry was able to get a proper party to celebrate a century of life, Michele is next looking forward to seeing him again, once visitors are allowed back to the nursing home.

“I can’t wait. I am extra self-isolating just to make sure I am well the day I get to see my daddy.”


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Written by
Henry Hanks

Henry Hanks is Senior News & Communications Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-522-3023 or

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Written by Henry Hanks

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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