100-year-old Lubbock veteran meets preschoolers who sent birthday cards

April 29, 2021

By Brittany Michaleson KLTV 7


LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - After surviving World War II and COVID-19, a Lubbock veteran celebrated his 100th birthday in December.


Wilford Naylor received almost 400 cards from community members, many from Sunnyside Learning Academy.


Now, months later, he got the chance to personally thank the preschoolers who made his milestone birthday even more special.


“With COVID getting better, this gave us an opportunity to come out and actually tell our gratitude in person,” Naylor’s daughter, Marilyn Mills said.


Local photographer, Courtney Padilla, heard Naylor’s story and asked several small businesses and schools to help celebrate.


Mills says she was surprised to see the outpouring of honor and respect.


“Very kind and generous of everyone and just helped make that day super special, over the top wonderful,” Mills said.


“We just wanted to bombard him and overwhelm him and show him our love,” Sunnyside Learning Academy owner, Gracie Sandoval, said.


Naylor served his country during World War II as a First Lieutenant in the U. S. Army Air Corps.


“Well, I wasn’t, don’t count me as brave. I just did what I had to do,” the humble hero said.


He piloted 35 combat missions, five in B-24 and 30 in B-17 Bombers.


“You say why so many more B-17s? Well, they went higher. Captain of the kids,” Naylor said.


Sandoval says the daycare used Naylor’s story to teach the kids about Veterans Day.


“When Wilford served in World War II, we wanted them to understand that as well. And just getting to chat with him and putting a face to it all really meant a lot,” Sandoval said.


In November, Frios Gourmet Pops let community members sign birthday cards for Naylor inside their shop.


The small business showed up Wednesday to make the celebration even sweeter.


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