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Hamilton Air Force veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Posted at 11:05 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-11 10:16:35-05

HAMILTON, Ohio — There’s no secret to Dan McSwain’s long life, he said Friday at his 100th birthday party. He just got lucky — and he did it more than once.

“By all rights had three chances to never make it back from (military training in) Arizona except in a pine box,” his son, Ronald McSwain, said.

McSwain, born in 1920, enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1943. The first time he climbed inside a plane, he recalled, the steering wheel came off. It didn’t deter him.

But he never made it overseas. He was called home twice from his training in Arizona: Once to care for his mother as her health failed and again to attend her funeral.

“I loved my mom,” he said Friday. “I can’t think of my mom without a tear or two, I guess. Isn’t that something? I’ll remember that if I live to be 100. God, I’m 100 now, aren’t I?”

Both times, his personal tragedy steered him away from a larger one. Both times, the planes on which he would have been traveling overseas crashed with full complements on board, killing everyone inside.

He returned home to spend the rest of his career in Hamilton, where he worked for Mosler and then Champion Paper. In his free time, he played softball, and his fellow players nicknamed him “Deacon” for his calm, kind demeanor on the field.

McSwain’s son, Ronald, said Friday his presence has been a blessing to generations of children and grandchildren.

“I got a father,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed having a father for longer than most people do.”