GOLETA, Calif. — It's not every day a man turns 100-years-old.
Today Ellwood Paul believed that only a few family members would showup to his birthday celebration at Mariposa at Ellwood Shores in Goleta.
However, the World War II veteran got much more than he initially expected, as members of Vandenberg Air Force Base paid him a special visit.
Col. David Rickards, director of staff for the 30th Space Wing ensured that Paul’s big day was extra special.
“He is a national treasure,” Rickards said. “We wanted to make sure that we were here to honor not just his 100th birthday but his service as well."
This afternoon, Paul was surrounded by four generations of his family along with other military members.
Ryan Wolfe hadn’t seen his grandfather in over a year.
“Especially with the pandemic and everything, I didn't want to jeopardize his health,” he said. “So today is a very special day."
After completing the army air forces flying training command, Paul was transferred into the regular army.
He served with the 324th infantry in France and Germany.
Back in 1944 in Northern France, Paul was wounded by enemy artillery fire.
After being wounded, he was sent to several hospitals and rehabilitation hospitals before returning to the United States in 1945.
“Best Dad ever,” his daughter, Penny Wolfe said. “We've had so many wonderful experiences, I’m so happy he has had such a long fulfilling life."
“He's just super positive, full of energy and he's never stopped,” Ryan Wolfe said. “Even now, he's still not stopping."
The Vandenberg team folded and presented private first class Paul with an American Flag.
“That legacy of valor he exemplified, it was an inspiration and motivation for us all in the service,” Rickards said.
They also made him an honorary member of the United States Space Force.
"it's simply overwhelming,” Paul concluded.
Veterans from Paul's time are often called ‘the greatest generation’ and his new friends from Vandenberg would certainly agree.