NEW HAVEN, W.Va. — It was a day of celebration in New Haven Tuesday as World War II Navy Veteran Bill McFarland marked his 100th birthday.
McFarland’s day was spent with well-wishing visitors, proclamations, and a drive-by card shower in the afternoon.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice proclaimed McFarland a “Distinguished Mountaineer” in a certificate delivered by Delegate Jonathan Pinson of the 13th District. In addition, New Haven Mayor Phil Serevicz and Recorder Becky Benson presented McFarland a certificate proclaiming the day as “Bill McFarland Day” in the municipality. Town administrators urged residents to complete an act of kindness in honor of the centenarian.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all McFarland had asked for were cards, and the people came through for him. He received a total of 314 as of Wednesday morning, he said. They came from as far as California, and included several from New Haven Elementary School classrooms.
McFarland was presented a new large American Flag and World War II veteran hat by Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 Commander Ray Varian. Many friends and neighbors brought gifts and baked goods, as well.
Born to Ernie and Ora (Jones) McFarland, he was one of nine children, including five boys who all served in the military. In fact, McFarland, after having served four years in the U.S. Navy from January 1942 to November 1945, said he would go back tomorrow if he was needed and able.
A Gunner Mate, Second Class, McFarland served with the Armed Guard, which escorted supplies of fuel, aircraft, tanks, ammo, troops and other items to support the war effort. He claims to have seen more water in those years than others see in their entire life.
McFarland has also left a mark on his longtime hometown. He, along with Phil Batey, started the New Haven Fire Department. He helped build the first fire station, which still stands across from the present town hall, and was also on the crew that built the now defunct Philip Sporn Power Plant.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.