SALIDA, Colo. (KDVR) — They had to sing the familiar song through the screen of a nursing home window, but that didn’t stop a group of veterans, family and friends from belting out a heartfelt rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” Saturday in honor of one of Colorado’s only remaining Pearl Harbor survivors.
George Blake turned 101 years old on Jan. 29. He’s been recovering at Columbine Manor Care Center in Salida after falling and breaking his leg in November.
FOX31 viewers first learned about Blake last year, when he embarked on a fundraiser in his small Colorado town. Leading up to his 100th birthday, he went on 100 walks to raise money for first responders and others suffering because of COVID-19.
Blake was stationed in the Army in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, when he heard the roar of Japanese fighter planes approaching. He survived the attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into World War II.
“And there was this tremendous sound. Sounded like airplanes were landing on a corrugated tin roof,” Blake told FOX31 last year, describing the attack.
“I suddenly realized, (the Americans killed) were all kids. … 19, 20,” Blake said, choking back tears.
In his adopted hometown of Salida, Blake is a hero and frequently attends events at the American Legion. That’s why fellow veterans, relatives and Salida Mayor Dan Shore showed up outside his nursing home window Saturday with a colorful birthday banner and a cake. They’d hoped to have a larger celebration, but pandemic restrictions prevented it. They also had to keep their distance, so they remained outside during the party while Blake watched from his room.
Friends asked Blake his secret to living past 100 years.
“Don’t smoke,” he said. “But a little gin and tonic doesn’t hurt.”