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100-Year-Old D-Day Veteran Celebrated in Haverhill

Bill Gladden, a veteran who was wounded in Normandy just days after arriving with the 6th Airborne Reconnaissance Regiment at age 20, received a surprise 100th birthday celebration in Suffolk.
Shot in the leg by a German tank, he endured a three-year hospital recovery. His relatives threw him a party last Friday, hailing him as a "legend" and an "inspiration".

His niece, Kaye Thorpe, 69, mentioned that despite his modesty about his war service due to his early injury, his courage was undeniable. During the war, Gladden fought near the French village of Ranville, helping protect the key Pegasus Bridge.

Prior to his military service, he was a builder and post-recovery, he held various jobs including factory work and payroll.

Against his wishes for a low-key centennial on January 13th, his family surprised him with a party at the local community center in Haverhill. The delighted veteran, wheeled in to the sound of "Happy Birthday" and applause, could only mouth his thanks in response.

Kaye and her husband, Alan Thorpe, who chauffeured Gladden to the event under the pretense of a dinner outing, emphasized his ongoing sharpness, zest for life, and his hobby of capturing wartime memories in watercolor paintings.

Gladden, who has previously revisited the site of his injury in Normandy, hopes to attend the 80th D-Day anniversary this June.

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