SCARBOROUGH —A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War celebrated his 100th birthday Tuesday.
Thomas Ewing, who has been a resident of the Maine Veterans’ Home for a little more than a year, was lauded for his military service at a centennial celebration attended by town officials and elected representatives, including U.S. Sen. Angus King, Gov. Paul LePage, state Sen. Amy Volk, state Rep. Heather Sirocki, and Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.
Ewing was born in Millinocket in 1916 and raised in West Enfield. He married in 1941, and he and his wife, Lillian, had three children.
His family followed him to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was stationed during WWII.
His daughter, Sharon Lynch, who now lives in Portland, said Wednesday that she vividly remembers trailing behind her mother with her two brothers through Grand Central Station in New York to meet their father during the war.
“It was hard,” Lynch said of her mother’s experience while Ewing was at war. During times those times, “family was so important,” she said.
In 1945, Ewing was deployed to Germany, where he drove tanks during the European Campaign until the end of the war.
In 1950, at the start of the Korean War, Ewing re-enlisted and served in the infantry for nine months in active combat zones on the Korean peninsula. Ewing retired from military service in 1957. Eventually, he and Lillian settled in Portland with their children. They would be married for the next 73 years, until her death at age 99 in 2014.
On Tuesday, Maureen Carland, administrator at the veterans’ home, told Ewing she heard he used to be a boxer as a young adult.
“That’s right,” he said.
Carland highlighted Ewing’s experiences, both in the war and in his personal life. After the war, Ewing worked as a Coles Express truck driver for 25 years, she said.
“It’s been an honor having you here at the veterans’ home for the last year,” she said. “You are such an incredible man. Thank you.”
Ewing received gifts from some of the guests, including an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was not present, but sent a representaive to deliver the gift.
In a press release following the event, King said Ewing “epitomizes the bravery, selflessness and character that is the hallmark of what we have come to call America’s ‘Greatest Generation.'”
Tom Lynch, Sharon’s son and one of Ewing’s grandsons, told the crowd that if they get Ewing alone, he has all kinds of stories to tell, and “he remembers them all,” he said. “We appreciate everything about him.”
Ewing’s son, Bob Ewing of Topsham, said despite his father’s age, “he has his wits about him.”
As for his father’s experience living in the veterans’ home, surrounded by other veterans, “he loves it,” Ewing said.
Lynch noted the significance of her father being honored by so many people.
“To have dad appreciated,” she said, “it makes you feel good.”
Thomas Ewing, 100, talks to administrator Maureen Carland at his birthday celebration Tuesday, July 5, at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough. Ewing fought in World War II and the Korean War.
Thomas Ewing, 100, poses with family members Tuesday, July 5, during his birthday celebration at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, where he has lived for the past year.