On what is normally a quiet street in Westchester, World War II veteran John Ullinskey was given a unique present for his 96th birthday, as neighbors, residents and strangers serenaded him.
“I took part in Normandy and in the Okinawa invasion on April 1, 1945, and I’m still here at good old 96,” he said.
Ullinskey wasn’t expecting a party, or truly much of anything because of social distancing requirements in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but Honor Flight Chicago made sure the party went on in a unique way.
“He’s a wonderful man,” Elizabeth Cook of Honor Flight Chicago said. “He goes to visit his wife Loretta everyday at the cemetery. He told me two weeks ago he was going to talk to her through her picture on the coffee table because of the pandemic.”
Ullinskey’s neighbors wanted to make his birthday special because of what his service meant to the community, and to the country.
“One thing we have to remember is that without them, we would not be in the country that we are in today,” Westchester Police Chief Daniel Babich said.
UIlinskey has lived in the community for 60 years, and he’s seen a lot of love from his neighbors, but nothing like this.
“It’s people like this that make my life worth living,” he said.