A San Diego-based U.S. Navy veteran celebrated his 100th birthday Thursday and, without a hint of hesitation, said his favorite memory of his long life will always be the day he married his wife.
“I was only married once, you know,” centenarian Wayne Edward Carr told NBC 7 proudly, remembering his wedding day.
Carr, who still has a sharp sense of humor, then joked that he got arrested on his wedding day.
“I was charged with theft for robbing the cradle,” the Imperial Beach resident said with a sly smile.
Family, friends and fellow vets gathered at the Imperial Beach Fleet Club to celebrate Carr’s 100th birthday. The party was also attended by Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina who dedicated the special day to Carr on behalf of the community.
“We’re all taking notes on what it looks like to be 100,” Dedina said to Carr, shaking his hand. “Thank you for all of your service to our country and having such a great family and being one of our most distinguished Imperial Beach residents.”
Carr said he was honored and humbled to have so many loved ones come together for his big birthday.
“I feel great with all of these people here. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “This means everything to me. It’s just wonderful. It’s out of this world.”
Carr said he spent 34 years serving in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in Hawaii in the early 1930s and then given orders to move to Washington D.C.
One of his most vivid memories is of that day 70 years ago in 1945 when WWII finally came to an end.
“I’ll never forget that day. I thought, ‘Oh my God, the war is over. I get to go back home to my wife and family.’ That was the biggest thing,” he recalled.
Carr said he loved his time in the Navy and looks back fondly on his service days.
He was taken aback recently when U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus sent him a letter recognizing his 100th birthday and long career in the Navy.
Beaming with pride, Carr held that letter up at his party.
The letter from Mabus read, in part:
“America owes you a special and heartfelt gratitude for your patriotic service. As a member of our Greatest Generation, I am sure you are proud to have served during a pivotal time in our Nation’s history. Please accept my very best wishes for a special birthday celebration.”
When asked his secret to a long, happy, healthy life, Carr told NBC 7 he can’t quite pinpoint what got him to 100.
“It’s one of those things I can’t put down,” he said.
“This is a different world than I grew up in,” the vet added.
Surrounded by friends and family, Carr said his birthday shingdig was one for the books – a day that would also go down in his own personal history.