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World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday by skydiving

WWII vet skydives
Posted at 9:02 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 09:02:17-05

A 100-year-old veteran celebrated a century on Earth by jumping out of a plane, thousands of feet above the ground.

Charlie Montanaro, who turned 100 on Thursday, wanted to do something he had never done before, and on top of that shortlist was skydiving.

"That’s about all there’s left to do in life," Montanaro said with a laugh.

"He has all his wit about him. He’s smart. He’s physically fit," said Adam Wygnanski, a Marine veteran and Montanaro's Guardian.

Despite being 100 years old, Montanaro still drives and lives by himself. Two years ago, Montanaro was flown to Washington D.C. by Honor Flights, a non-profit group paying respect to military veterans, often to see respective memorials around the country. After that trip, he said he wanted to go skydiving for his 100th birthday, and that dream came true Thursday.

At SkyDive Arizona/Adventures in Skydiving in Eloy, Arizona, Montanaro jumped tandem from more than 13,500 feet in the air, sliding safely on the ground for a successful jump.

"That first blast is cold on the face, but that’s a good deal... I’d do that again," Montanaro said.

Montanaro is a veteran of the Merchant Marines, and during World War II, Montanaro and other marine seaman delivered war cargo to troops. It wasn't until 1988 that Merchant Marine members were considered veterans.

This story was originally published by Adam Waltz on KNXV in Phoenix, Arizona.