100-year-old Bay Area veteran worked under 'Father of the Nuclear Navy' after serving in WWII

For Marvin Leibson of St. Pete Beach, turning a century old doesn't feel a lot different.

"I get up in the morning. I feel like, just the same," he said.

But the 100 years now behind him were anything but typical.

Marvin Leibson recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

In 1942, while the country was fighting wars on two fronts, the Detroit native marched into an Army recruiting office.

"I went down to volunteer. They said, 'Go back to school. We'll call you up when we want you.' So, I went back for a semester, and they called me up," Leibson recalled.

He was assigned to airborne.

READ: Gulfport World War II veteran honored with place in in Congressional Record: 'This is your story'

"I didn't know what it was. And, you know, it's just something new to learn," he shared.

He served on the Pacific front, in New Guinea and the Philippines, as an airborne engineer. Marvin repaired runways bombed by Japan.

"Our group assignment was to get the airstrip in immediate use so that the airplanes could land and then reload and go bomb," he said.

Leibson's bulletproof smile during service earned him a reputation amongst other soldiers.

"I would always smile. One of the officers came up and said, 'We tried to wipe the smile off your face, and we failed. That's you. We accept you for that'," he remembered.

After the war, Leibson returned to school and graduated as a mechanical engineer. He worked at the Bettis Atomic Lab in Pittsburgh, building nuclear submarines under admiral Hyman Rickover, the so-called "Father of the Nuclear Navy". He was a design engineer.

Hyman Rickover was called the "Father of the Nuclear Navy."

"I always like working, doing something that's almost impossible. They would let us try anything," he said.

According to Leibson, that determination and unwavering patriotism helped the greatest generation earn their name.

"I think that's the way we were brought up, all of us," shared Leibson.

And as Leibson now reflects on a long and happy life, he shared the secret that made it all possible.


"Having parents that are loving for a long life and keeping your health. Health is worth more than money," he explained.

Despite all his military and professional accolades, Leibson said what he is most proud of is his family. He has two children, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

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