Staff Sergeant Ernest “Ernie” Horsfall from Preston in Lancashire, England, is an extraordinary man. On Friday, he turned 105 — but that isn’t the only astounding feat he has accomplished.
He served in WWII with the Army Ordnance Corps and then the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He was in London, alongside Allied forces in North Africa, and working on Allied forces’ tanks in Italy.
“There would be swarms of Nazi bombers flying overhead all night, and I knew many people that were injured or worse,” he told SWNS, according to Fox News.
“On one occasion, our guard room was hit and six of my pals were killed. I was just lucky it wasn’t my duty that night.”
At age 43, he learned how to fly planes, which he continued to do in a professional capacity until he hit age 93 and was told he could no longer be insured as a pilot. So he continued his work with aircraft by focusing on maintenance instead until he turned 101.
On the more personal front, Horsfall was married for an impressive 57 years, but since then, his wife, sister, and sole son have all died.
Now at 105, he has a girlfriend in Iceland, and she’s almost half his age at 63 years old.
Horsfall maintains that through it all, his positive outlook on life is what has kept him buoyant.
“The secret to a long life is to keep living as happy as you can and keep a straight mind,” he said.
Since he has no surviving family, his birthday this year likely would have been a quiet affair — but the Royal British Legion wasn’t about to let one of their heroes go unnoticed.
“We are working hard to make sure Ernest’s 105th birthday is a very special occasion,” Branch Secretary Christine Parry said, according to a post by the Royal British Legion.
“I am hoping that people across Lancashire, and perhaps throughout the country, will take time to send a card to show Ernest how much we appreciate everything he did, in order for us to enjoy the freedoms that we do today.”
“Occasions like this are an opportunity for the [Royal British Legion] to remind everyone that their service and sacrifice means something and will never be forgotten,” she added when speaking to SWNS.
On March 28, the group put out a call for cards on their Facebook page, sharing an address that people could send birthday cards to — and they responded in force: Horsfall received over 3,000 cards from friends, strangers, and well-wishers.
“I say thank you to you all,” he said. “I’m utterly surprised and amazed at the number of greeting cards that came my way.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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