World War II Veteran Receives 50,000 Cards For His 96th Birthday

Duane Sherman still has shrapnel in his back from when a kamikaze plane slammed into the ship he served during World War II. He was a chief sonarman aboard the USS Lamson when he lost 30 shipmates during that action.

He's a Purple Heart recipient and a proud veteran. But like any sailor before the days of mobile phones and internet, Sherman still likes to know what comes in the daily mail.

Now living in California, Sherman looks forward to mail call every day. So in early December, he kept asking his daughter what came in the mail that day. The war veteran kept looking for birthday cards to commemorate his upcoming 96th birthday. But day after day, no such greeting.

"Every day he said, 'Oh have you checked the mail?'" said his daughter, Sue Morse, in this report by KCAL9 in Los Angeles. "To get something in the mail … that, for him … that's special."

"All my friends are gone," Duane said.

This was nearly a month ago in anticipation of his birthday. His daughter turned to Facebook, hoping anyone would find it in their heart to send her father a birthday card.

"We should all be very proud of their service and honor them in any way that we can," said Sue, who insisted it was a gesture to thank her father for his service rather than merely a birthday greeting.

And the gestures poured in by the tens of thousands.

By the time the chief's 96th trip around the sun hit on Dec. 30, 2018, Sherman had received more than 50,000 birthday cards from people in all 50 states and 10 countries. A salute from folks he'll most likely never see in this lifetime.

For Sherman, it was Christmas, Veterans Day, his birthday and New Year's all rolled into one.

"Well, I'll have a hell of a time reading them," Sherman said while laughing during an interview earlier in December.

Most United States military members from World War II are either in their 90's or 100's.

Last week, the country lost Richard Overton, who was the country's oldest living person and the oldest living military member from World War II.