Meet the 100-year-old Oviedo man who has survived World War II, cancer, COVID-19

Seminole County honors John Henry Chaney and Raymond Cassagnol

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – During Seminole County’s board of commissioners meeting, two Oviedo residents were honored for their service in World War II.

John Henry Chaney, 100 and Raymond Cassagnol, 100, were recognized Tuesday in Seminole County.

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“The captain came out one morning and said: ‘Boys! We gettin’ ready to go in the war and we going to Iwo Jima.' I never had heard about Iwo Jima,” Chaney recalled. The Maryland native was drafted at 26. Decades later, his memory is still sharp as he remembered the 14-day journey by ship to Iwo Jima in 1944.

“The big ships they can only go so far where the battlefield is but we were close enough where we could see ‘em shootin’ see the bullets and stuff,” the WWII veteran said.

Commissioner Lee Constantine, of Seminole County, spoke to News 6 about the proclamation on behalf of the county that honors both Chaney and Cassagnol, who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1920.

“We have a very robust group of veterans here in Seminole County over 35,000,” Constantine said. “We love honoring them, all of them because we understand that our freedom is based upon their service.”

The proclamation states Oct. 27 as the day to honor two Seminole county centenarians who fought in World War II.

“Their stories are our history. Their life story is passing,” Constantine said. “And so these two individuals, one was in the Haitian Army who served with the allies and was a pilot in the Haitian Air Force and he’s the only left.”

For Bill Hyde, a Vietnam war veteran and member of the American Legion Post 243 in Oviedo, it’s about keeping their stories of survival alive.

“It’s great just to talk to these guys as older vets the older vets, we look up to them so much,” Hyde said. “We want to make sure that the next generations recognize what the older generations contributed to what we have today.”

Chaney’s contribution was recognized with a congressional gold medal in 2012 given to all African-American veterans of the Marine Corps.

“But it took us 60 years to get it,” Chaney said.

And he’s not only a war survivor. In 2017, Chaney was diagnosed with cancer and beat the disease. Then, in March, he fell ill to COVID-19.

“At first, I started getting sick around the house. Then my fever went up,” Chaney recalled.

When his fever was close to 100 degrees, his daughter took him to the emergency room. He spent three days in the hospital but did not require a ventilator. Soon after, he said he began to feel better.

“I feel great. I’m active. I walk and I ride a bicycle. I don’t have any pains. I don’t know what pain is,” Chaney said.

Chaney, who has 15 children, said he feels proud to have been honored by Seminole County.

“It means that I must’ve done something right. For them to do that.”

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.