World War II veteran receives hundreds of cards for 102nd birthday

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Sometimes people can really rise to the occasion. A World War II veteran learned this lesson after receiving hundreds of birthday cards to celebrate his 102nd birthday.

Mike Deiderich will turn 102 on Nov. 20. He said that his wish was to get 102 birthday cards. So the managers at Care One Assisted Living Facility in Paramus posted a request on Facebook for cards, and they soon began coming from all over the country – over 1,000 of them.

“It’ll take me two hours to read all that,” Deiderich says.

Deiderich has lived a long and colorful life. He was a nose gunner on the Army B24 Liberator Dorothy K Special in World War II, where he flew 35 bombing missions over Germany. He says that he remembers it vividly.

He says that there was the time that he found his friend unconscious midflight due to his oxygen mask becoming detached. Deiderich was able to save his life.

“A few more seconds and he probably would have been gone,” Deiderich says.

He also recalls the time he had to walk a catwalk midflight to secure bombs that hadn't dropped as they prepared for a dangerous landing.

"The bomb bay doors open and the catwalk's [not very] wide, but I did safety wire all three of them,” he says.

And there was also the time that he took two pieces of flak to his stomach on the 35th and final mission.

“When the pilot landed the plane, he had an ambulance waiting for me that took me to the hospital,” Deiderich says.

After serving in the military, Deiderich worked as a puppeteer, doing performances in New York City and at USO shows for the troops. And he got married to his wife Dorothy, a professional singer. They have been married for 66 years and still going strong.

Deiderich says that he is grateful for his life and grateful for all of those who are helping to celebrate his birthday.

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