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Community honors World War II veteran's 100th birthday when family can't be there

Posted at 7:44 PM, May 13, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. — World War II veteran William Cheesman was disappointed that his family couldn’t travel to Florida for his 100th birthday. So friends and local veterans surprised him with a special drive-by celebration.

Cheesman fought in many battles during World War II as part of the United States Coast Guard and Navy.

"He's a war hero from well before World War II, Korea, and Vietnam," said Kevin Mackin, Cheesman's neighbor.

But because of the pandemic, Cheesman was going to spend his 100th birthday alone.

"Bill’s niece up North contacted our state captain and said they have a birthday party for him every year, but this year they can’t because of the pandemic," said Henry Hyde, with the Patriot Guard Riders.

So the community, along with local veterans, found a way to make sure he was able to celebrate.

"We wanted to do something to make the day special," said Jan Schnieder.

On Wednesday, dozens of veterans drove by Cheesman's Sarasota home to wish him a very happy birthday.

Cheesman sat on his lawn and was overjoyed as he waved at all the people.

"100 years old, that’s special in itself and then, he’s a World War II vet, that's even more special. Anytime we can honor these World War II vets, they’re real heroes," said Hyde.