CLEARWATER, Fla. - Dozens gathered Monday morning at a Bob Evans restaurant in Clearwater to surprise a special hero for his birthday.
O’Neil Ducharme turns 95 years old on Tuesday, and he has already left quite a legacy. Ducharme was a Marine for nearly 40 years.
During his time in the service, he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars. He fought in some of the most brutal battles, but still remains an active member of the veteran community.
"I went in the Marine Core in 1942. I went to World War II, a month later I joined the active reserve," Ducharme told FOX 13. "I was called back for Korea, called back for Vietnam, and I was on active reserve for most of my life- 39 and a half years."
Since his time in the service, he, along with fellow vets, have formed a group called Bob’s Vets. They meet every Monday at Bob Evans to have breakfast and coffee. It has become a safe space of community and camaraderie for vets who can understand each other’s journeys.
Monday, Bob’s Vets, along with family and friends of Ducharme, gathered in the usual breakfast spot but this time it was to celebrate Ducharme. They told FOX 13 he is a selfless hero who still continues to dedicate his time to veteran organizations, adding that no one is more deserving than him.
When Ducharme walked in, he was speechless.
"I was totally, totally in shock. I had no inclination this was going to happen. I am still in shock really," said Ducharme. "It means a lot to me, because all of these people are all of my best friends, gifted friends."
Ducharme said he plans to stay active with the Honor Flight organization and keep active until he's 110 years old.