World War II veteran celebrates 102nd birthday in Meriden

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MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It was a big birthday bash in Meriden Thursday morning. The mayor was even there, proclaiming it a special day in the city. That’s what happens when a World War II veteran turns 102 years old.

The mayor of Meriden does not usually proclaim two days for one person, but this is an exception. It was Henry Muszynski Day two years ago when he turned 100. Now, he gets the honor again as he turns 102. What’s his secret?

RELATED: Meriden Antique Veterans Honor Guard holds celebration for veteran’s 101st birthday

“My cardiologist tells me, ‘Henry, take a deep breath, take a deep breath, and you’re fine,” Muszynski said. “So, what more would I want?”

He did a lot more than that in WWII. He was part of the very dangerous 88th Glider infantry.

“I was in the first glider regiment in the country. Suicide outfit,” Muszynski said. “Somehow, I made it to this day.”

He got to spend this day with his comrades for the past 25 years, the Meriden Antique Veterans Honor Guard. It’s no social club. It’s a volunteer group of veterans with a mission: when a veteran passes away in Connecticut, they have an honor guard at their funeral.

“We’ve done, I think, like 1,871 funerals since 9/11,” the Honor Guard’s Commander, Ed Lynch, said “They didn’t count before that. After 9/11, one of the guys decided, let’s keep track of this.”

The honor guard still has four World War II vets as members. Two 97-year-olds were on hand for the birthday bash.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” Lynch said. “We’ve been out in hip-deep blizzards, rainstorms, and weather that’s so hot you can’t stand it.”

At 102, Muszynski is in a wheelchair now, but he was never much for resting before.

“I never had a job sitting down,” he said. “I was always standing.”

Standing up for his country, then standing for fellow veterans.

“Twenty-five years,” he said, looking at the room full of men in uniform. “Just so happy to see everybody here.”

And they look forward to doing it all again next year when he turns 103.

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