A wonderful group of Navy officers surprised this 98-year-old World War II veteran when they came up at his home and sang "Anchors Aweigh," while the former sailor stood in salute on his porch.
It was the final honor for Ernest Thompson, who served on the USS Tennessee and the USS Missouri. "He told me it was one of the best days of his life," Jonathan Williams, the Vet’s grandson told reporters in his interview.
Williams runs the Battleship at the Iowa Museum in Los Angeles, where Thompson, who lives in Gardena, California, would frequently visit and speak to guests about his service. But lately he's been incapable to make the trip because of health issues, and so a group of Chief Sailors from the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center in San Diego decided to bring the Navy to him at his home!
After the Sailors sang, they all lined up to shake his hand, one by one, and presented him with a plaque. "I love all of you dearly," Thompson said to the Sailors, after commending them on their new rank. "Thank you for this day."
Williams, who has never served in the Navy, called his grandfather his "best friend" and said he encouraged him to turn the USS Iowa into the museum it is today. He wanted to make a place to honor the veterans, and offer people like his grandfather back to relive their days at sea and educate the public as to what these brave Soldiers go through.
He was heartened after visiting the USS Missouri with Thompson in 2000, and seeing how returning to his old ship revitalized his grandfather. "When you see an old man become 18 again, it just hits you right in the heart," Williams said. "So I offered to save the Iowa and devoted a lot of energy into it to make it perfect. I did it for the veterans of Iowa, to be able to have that same experience my grandfather had on the Missouri."
While Williams wasn't there for the tribute from the Sailors, a video he posted of the surprise ceremony has gone viral, gaining millions of views on Facebook and all over YouTube.
"I talked to my mother and family, and we think this might have prolonged his life further," he added. "And he's already on his way to 100 years!"
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