100-year-old WWII vet born during Spanish flu is staying positive amid COVID-19 pandemic

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many of the nation’s elderly population have spent the pandemic in isolation away from those who might be carrying COVID-19, but even through these trying times, one central Texas WWII veteran is staying positive.

Greg Gregory has seen a lot in his 100 years of life.

“The world has changed a lot,” said Gregory,

Born during the Spanish flu, he is now living through another pandemic — but his advice to others is to stay positive.

“Wake up in the morning and have an optimistic attitude about the day,” said Gregory.

He’s a proud veteran, having served in the military for more than 35 years, with deployments in Korea, Vietnam and WWII.

“I was flying P-38s at that time,” said Gregory. “It was a very fast airplane.”

He even flew during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But even with so many accolades for his service, he never forgets those who didn’t make it home.

“Quite a few lost their lives when we made contact with the enemy. So I feel sorry for those individuals and their families,” said Gregory.

Each year the Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington, D.C., for a day to take in the memorials and interact with fellow veterans. Gregory was able to make the flight a few years ago.

“I was happy to be a part of that. I think all of us that were on the Honor Flight enjoyed that very much,” said Gregory.

Cookie Ruiz, Gregory’s daughter, says it was a special time for her father.

“To take them to D.C. and to give them that experience is something that came as such a gift to our family,” said Ruiz.

This year though, because of the pandemic, flights were cancelled and there is no certainty when the honor flights will resume. Many of those veterans like Gregory have also been isolated in retirement homes. Cookie says the isolation has been hard on her father.

“For most of this time, I haven’t been able to see him at all,” said Ruiz.

But Gregory is a fighter and don’t forget about his positive attitude.

“I am always optimistic that things will improve,” he said.

For Ruiz, she cherishes everyday she has with her father.

“We determined together that he was not going to come in the middle of one pandemic and leave in the middle of another,” said Ruiz.

Honor Flight Austin says they do have flights booked for the spring, but it will depend how things are going with the pandemic at that time.

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