A 105-year-old World War II veteran has seen it all. After surviving Pearl Harbor, many other intense battles in the Pacific theater, and more recently COVID-19, he's still around to tell his tale.
Bill Monfort of Tampa, Florida, turned 105 on Dec. 17. He says he learned to drive on a Model T, one of the earliest cars, produced from 1908-1927 by Ford.
“He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met,” said Don Alexander, his son-in-law.
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Monfort remembers being 800 miles off the coast of Honolulu when the Japanese bombed Pear Harbor, initiating the United States's entrance into the Second World War. He was one of the first to hear the chilling message, “Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill," the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Monfort served in most major battles in the Pacific theater against the Japanese during the war. He sports a hat that reads “Kamikaze WWII Survivor" to mark his service.
“That hat has gotten me a lot of free meals," he says.
The heroic veteran says he remembers getting the polio vaccine when it first came out in the 1950s. “It wasn’t like people are with COVID now,” he said. “People took it matter-of-fact, as something they needed to do. And they had no problem.”
Monfort was infected with COVID-19 in July 2020, before the vaccines were available. He recovered from the infection and afterwards decided to move into an assisted living home.
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“If I went back to my apartment in Tampa, I could live a lot cheaper than here,” Monfort said. “But at my age, it probably wouldn’t be long before I’d be needing some help in the home. Here, they’ve got everything.”
Monfort says he is content with his life and only wishes for Americans to remember that the Second World War happened and who was there to answer the call.
“We were there," he said.