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Warren veteran celebrates 100 on 9/11 anniversary

Birthday falls on fateful date in US history

Staff photo / Bob Coupland George Goldner celebrates his 100th birthday today, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) lives at Washington Square Nursing Home in Warren, where a birthday bash was held Friday in his honor. Goldner is a Warren native and moved to the facility in January 2020, before the pandemic started.

WARREN — Twenty years ago today, on his 80th birthday, Warren resident George Goldner said he didn’t have much have reason to celebrate.

As Goldner marks his 100th birthday, the country notes the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.

Family, friends and several military groups gathered Friday at Washington Square Nursing and Rehab Center to celebrate the milestone birthday. Goldner received cards and other gifts, including a box of graham crackers — his favorite snack.

Goldner, a World War II veteran, was a corporal when he served three years in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force). He was stationed in England, France and Germany.

“I was proud to serve. Sept. 11 is the same as always for my birthday,” he said.

Goldner said he began his service in 1941, when he was sent to England to work in the control tower at an advanced training center for P-47s Thunderbolts. The escort planes were capable of carrying rockets and bombs. Goldner helped guide pilots during takeoff and landing by ensuring their airspeeds were correct.

He said serving in Europe was similar in many ways to serving in the United States.

His son, Wayne Goldner, said his father’s 80th birthday wasn’t the happiest, but he was blessed with good health and had a positive attitude.

“His birthday on Sept. 11 does give us something to celebrate when so many others are mourning on this day,” Ashley Goldner, George’s daughter-in-law, said.

Wayne said the family tries to visit with his father when they can, with the coronavirus pandemic making it difficult.

The family said Goldner has so many stories and memories to share.

Deborah Horvath, volunteer coordinator, and Lisa Calabrette, social worker, with Southern Care Hospice in Austintown, said it is not often they get to give a special pin to a veteran turning 100.

“We were very honored to be part of this special celebration,” Horvath said.

Goldner, a Warren native, moved to Washington Square in January 2020.

Goldner said during his lifetime he always enjoyed traveling west to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

“My dad liked to travel. We took a lot of good vacations,” Wayne said.

Theresa Bartlett, a veterans affairs liaison and retired director at Washington Square, said they wanted to make sure Goldner had a special birthday.

A large sign with balloons and large lettering were in the yard by the parking lot wishing Goldner a “Happy Birthday.”

Ken David, adjutant with Disabled American Veterans Post 11 in Warren, said he has been fortunate that veterans who have turned 100, 103 and 104 have been honored recently.

A ceremony was held at Friday’s party, which included the local color guard, music and commendations from local and state officials.

Goldner was born in Warren and grew up on a farm in the country, graduating from Jackson-Milton High School. He went to work at Peerless Electric in Warren until he was drafted into the Army Air Corps at the age of 21.

Although Goldner was not on the frontlines, the training center still could be a dangerous place, he said.

“Some days we had more casualties at the air base than they did in actual combat,” Goldner said.

When Goldner’s base in England was closed, he was sent to Nuremburg, Germany, where he worked in communications, sorting documents related to war crimes.

After his service, Goldner returned to Warren and resumed his job at Peerless Electric. He retired after 45 years.

He and his late wife, Rhonda, have two sons, several grandchildren and some great-grandchildren.

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