Gadsden veteran celebrates 100th birthday


Photo: Martin “Mac” McGarvey poses for a photo with friends and family at his 100th birthday party. Submitted photo.


Martin “Mac” McGarvey is not your usual 100-year-old World War II veteran.

He’s spry, vocal and accompanied by an incredibly large support system.

His life is one that is rich with history, love for the outdoors and fishing, as well as a deep appreciation for music and artistic expression.

McGarvey has had a special 100 years of life.

The oldest of eight children, McGarvey was born into a family of tool makers. His father worked at a local tool shop that McGarvey would start working in just after finishing high school. That was where he met the love of his life, the shop secretary, Barbara. He joined the U.S. Army as America was becoming involved in World War II and moved to California before being called to fight for his great country.

He remembers the enormous Japanese battle ships, and the conflict that took place all around him.

“It’s a funny thing in combat,” McGarvey said about his time at war over-seas. “You don’t get scared in combat, its after its all over, then you’re scared as hell.”

According to those who know him, McGarvey has a tremendous talent for writing and artistic expression. Years ago, he published an essay of his military career, that is now included in the Clermont Public Library in Ohio.

He was even named poet of the year in Las Vegas.

He has written over 400 poems and boasts an entire collection that’s held in the home that he shares with his son John and his daughter in law Donna.

“I’ve got folders and folders of them,” McGarvey said. “If it hadn’t been for art, I would have never gotten out of the first grade!”

If McGarvey is not writing hard-hitting essays on war or emotional poetry about his late wife Barbara, one may be able to find him singing karaoke at a military service club somewhere.

When asked about what it means to be one hundred years of age, McGarvey only wanted to talk about his family.

He expressed his gratitude for all the attendees of his birthday party which included a packed house of family and friends from California, Washington D.C, Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

Seeing all his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in one place together had him smiling the entire day. Songs were sung, pictures were taken and memories were shared as the big family congregated together for a great celebration of life.

McGarvey was asked if he had any advice for all the 99-year-olds out there.

“Take one more step,” he said while laughing.

This article was submitted by Adam Kirstein.

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