On April 24, more than 250 people celebrated Jack’s 100th birthday. A Navy Veteran and VA Golden Age Game Competitor, he celebrated the past century with his Bay Area family and friends with a traditional Italian dinner and cake. Many were on hand to wish him well, including Admiral Mike Mullen the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Tammy Duckworth the Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Jack surprised partygoers when he announced he would be competing with the VA Palo Alto Health Care System team at the Golden Age Games in Honolulu at the end of May.
Jack has a long history of serving his country. From 1928 to 1931, he patrolled the Yangtze River in China with the Navy and then in the South Pacific during World War Two. Jack soon met the love of this life, Opal, and raised a family. Three generations later, they are surrounded by 14 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren – who were there as Jack pursued a career as a painter, which lead to him scaling radio towers at the Oakland Airport and across the Midwest. Once he put down the paint brushes and retired, Jack volunteered at the Hayward Police Department, the Department at Veterans Affairs and served his community as a Mason, and an Elk.
At the age of 94, Jack decided to give sports a try. In 2007, he made his grand entrance carrying the California flag at the opening ceremony of the Houston Golden Age Games. Jack didn’t stop there; he grabbed a bowling ball and dominated the checkers board against other Veterans, some 16 years his junior. Since then, he has competed successfully in croquet, shuffleboard, and air rifle at the Golden Age Games in Indianapolis, Des Moines, and Fresno.
Today, Jack is standing with his fellow Veterans at the 25th annual Golden Age Games. The Games are being hosted by VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System and co-sponsored by Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV), the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki along Mrs. Duckworth will be on hand to wish Jack and his fellow competitor’s good luck at the opening ceremonies.
If you want to follow Jack’s progress at the Games or any of the other 826 Veterans who will be competing for the gold in Hawaii, please visit the Golden Age Games website. The site will be updated regularly with videos highlights, photographs, and information regarding the Games. We wish all of those competing in the Games the best of luck!
Kerri Childress is the Director of Communications and Congressional Liaison for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. She graduated from the University of Maryland University College.