Veteran Salute: 101-year-old WWII veteran born premature, outlives life expectancy

Veteran Salute

Tom Copeland was born on a farm in Arkansas in 1917. Do the math – yes – he’s 101 years old and among his dozens of interesting life experiences is some time spent serving our country.

“I was born two months premature, the doctor told my dad I wouldn’t make through the night,” said Tom Copeland, WWII veteran. “I weighed about four pounds.”

Tom Copeland has far outlived his life expectancy.  At 12 he remembers starting to drive, hauling bales of cotton. He remembers going to school with Preacher Roe and loved watching him play baseball.

In 1943 Tom was drafted into the military.

“Two guys ahead of me and they asked Army or Navy. They said Navy. No army, the other said Navy no Army, they asked me and I said Navy. OK Navy,” said Copeland.

Tom started in San Diego for training and made various stops across the U.S. preparing to sail overseas. He made it to his ship and was there for just a couple of hours he says, when the war ended.

“I was always glad to see new places,” said Tom.

Tom returned to his wife and two kids in Arkansas for a few years and then headed to Washington state to work in the fruit industry. He would end up spending three decades working for Boeing. Seven grandkids, 13 great-grandkids and already eight great-great grandkids later…Tom enjoyed family life and marriage.

“74 years, 5 months and 20 days, my wife passed away in 2010,” said Copeland. 

Tom says he never thought he’d live to age 90, let alone 101. He last grew a garden when he was 98 and somewhat recently moved into a retirement home. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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