When World War II veteran Don Brown turned 95 this past Wednesday, his birthday celebration had already been buzzing for weeks.
That’s because, in anticipation of his big day, Don’s daughter Julie asked complete strangers to send him birthday cards. And so far, he’s already received 180 of them.
“He’s just amazing so I wanted to make it super special, and just said, ‘Hey my dad’s going to be 95. It’d be really cool if he could get some cards’, you know, something extra in the mail besides bills and advertisements.” she told KTVB7. “You know, maybe 10-15 cards.”
Julie spread posted about her father on a Facebook page for Iwo Jima survivors. She told the story of her father’s enlistment and shared that he is now legally blind and living alone.
Almost immediately, people from “33 states and Washington D.C.” sent Don 124 cards. According to Julie, he’s also received “two from England, one from Japan, and a handful of handmade cards from students in junior high classes.”
The World War II veteran’s neighbor Abby heads over to his house to read him the letters.
“It’s so heartwarming and so powerful… because it is such a testimony to how much good is left,” Abby told the outlet. ” I think it means more than he’s even really able to say.”
The World War II Veteran Enlisted in the Marines at Only 17 Years Old
Don Brown joined the Marines out of Sioux City, Iowa, when he was only 17. At the time, a man had to be 18 to enlist, but they’d make exceptions if parents signed off a year earlier. And Don convinced his mother that his country needed him.
Two days before his 18th birthday, he saw his first battle while serving in the Fifth Marine division during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“They let us crowd the beach and then they opened up on us, and they couldn’t miss,” said Don. “Yeah, it was hell.”
U.S. soldiers ended up taking Mt. Suribachi within four days. But Don continued to fight for another two years.
And nearly eight decades later, people are still letting Don know how grateful they are for his service.
“He’s such a proud Marine. So to know that other people care about his service, it’s been an outpouring of love, just absolute love,” Julie said. “I think it means more than he’s even really able to say.”
And what does Don have to say about the outpouring of love?
“Well, I — I think somebody’s thinking of me anyway,” he told the outlet.
If you’d like to mail birthday wishes to the World War II veteran, you can send a card to KTVB.