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Birthday blowout: WWII veteran gets special surprise to celebrate turning 95

Family asked for balloon donations to fill his room

DeLAND, Fla. – A local man was determined not to let his veteran father’s 95th birthday go unnoticed as he spent time recovering in a hospital so with a little help from social media, the WWII Marine got a full-on birthday blowout.

Daniel Lee posted on Facebook Wednesday about his father’s predicament.

“My father, Corporal Ernest Lee, USMC, served in several WW II Pacific campaigns and one of the last remaining liberators of Guam alive today. As of this writing 10/7, Dad is recovering from a series of serious falls in a DeLand, Florida hospital. He has congestive heart failure and his health is now very fragile,” the post read.

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Because of visitor limitations put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Daniel Lee knew that his family wouldn’t be able to celebrate Ernest Lee’s 95th birthday on Friday the way they would have liked. It was extra hard, too, knowing that the Marine would soon be transferred to a rehabilitation facility and would need to undergo a two-week quarantine all alone for the second time in a month.

Daniel Lee was still set on marking the momentous milestone, so he asked something simple of his Facebook friends and some Marines he contacted in Guam.

My father, Corporal Ernest Lee, USMC, served in several WW II Pacific campaigns and one of the last remaining liberators...

Posted by Daniel Lee on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

“I thought it might be a good idea to share this news and ask our community, if interested, to help celebrate my father by purchasing a balloon or two and filling his room. To let him know he is not alone and very appreciated during his 95th birthday,” the post read.

The plan worked, so much so that the gift shop at AdventHealth DeLand actually ran out of balloons and couldn’t fill all the orders.

Daniel Lee said his father deserved all the extra love, attention and the outpouring of support on his big day.

“He is one of the last of the greatest generation. He’s one of the last few remaining veterans that are alive right now that were in the Pacific. He serviced our country, he’s a wonderful dad, so I’m trying now to ask the community to put a balloon in his room and let him know he’s appreciated and cared for on his 95th birthday,” Daniel Lee said.

And it seems the gesture paid off.

"I would say the balloon represents one of the nicest things that happened in my life. I said, ‘It’s not the value of the balloon, it’s the feeling behind sending me the balloon’ because that just made my day, week,” Ernest Lee said.


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