World War II veteran Richard Barcheski turned 101 years old on Tuesday, July 17.
He celebrated with birthday cake, balloons, and smiles at Tripler Army Medical Center’s Vascular Surgery department.
Barcheski was unable to physically spend his birthday with his four children, 14 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren because they do not live on Oahu. They sent their birthday wishes and sang happy birthday through the phone.
Barcheski was an Air Force major who fought in World War II, and delivered a total of 2.3 million tons of cargo to allies during the Berlin Airlift. He was also a Hawaiian Airlines pilot for 30 years, and founded the state’s first air ambulance, officials said.
When asked what his secret to long life was, Barcheski said his wife of 65 years.
Before she died 10 years ago, Barcheski said she was always supportive and, upon his retirement from the military, encouraged him to carry on his love for flying.
Barcheski also credited the hospital for his decades of care.
“No other medical establishment has provided me with such great care and service that Tripler Army Medical Center has,” said Barcheski. “I am thankful for the entire staff who’ve been working from 1943 to now. You’ve helped to keep my heart beating.”