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VA hospital staff celebrate veteran's 100th birthday

Ralph Reighter served in WWII and Korea, crashed his plane, and at almost 100 years old, is still on the move.

Posted: Apr. 20, 2018 5:27 PM
Updated: Apr. 21, 2018 4:12 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- The VA hospital celebrated a centennial milestone Friday for one of its own.

Ralph Reighter served in WWII and Korea, crashed his plane, and at almost 100 years old, is still on the move.

"My mind was way on something else. I had no idea until we got right here as to what was going on," Reighter said about his surprise party.

When VA staff learned of his upcoming birthday, they got ahold of his son, Ken, to help them celebrate.

"Our family is very patriotic...My great great grandfather, his name was George Washington Reighter. My great grandfather was Thomas Jefferson Reighter," he said.

Reighter was born in June of 1918. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the United States Army, and went to flight school. He would eventually have two sisters and six brother. Robert, his younger brother, said Ralph started the trend of Reighter brothers deciding to serve.

"He was our hero from way back in the 40s. He took flying lessons out at Baer Field, so we were all aircraft acquainted. So, it was just proper for all of us to go into the Air Force," he said.

While they served together, Robert also remembers nights on the town with Ralph.

"When he was just out of high school and driving, he took me one time to a movie and an ice cream joint afterwards, and I never forgot that," he said.

During one of his 100 missions in North Korea, Reighter's plane went down, striking a pallet of artillery shells. The next day, he was flying again. And Reighter said that's the secret to a long life.

"Do what you want to do. I always wanted to fly, and I did," he said.

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