- Associated Press - Monday, August 14, 2017

DETROIT (AP) - A 92-year-old World War II veteran who has terminal cancer got to celebrate his life with loved ones at his own wake in Michigan.

A living wake was held Sunday at the Walter F. Bruce VFW Post for Johnny Wearing, who was able to say thanks and goodbye to his loved ones.

The Detroit native learned about three weeks ago that he has very little time to live because of the liver cancer he’s been fighting for years. His friend Matthew Seely, 55, decided to set aside funds that would’ve typically been earmarked for a memorial luncheon and organize the celebration instead, the Detroit Free Press reported .

“I said, ‘Johnny, you have a chance nobody gets. You can say goodbye,’” Seely said.

Along with family, attendees included Wearing’s friends from the Barbershop Quartet Society and children of his fellow WWII bomber crew members.

“I am so happy so many folks are here and are having a good time,” Wearing said Sunday to attendees. “I love you all. Each of you has touched me in a special way, and I hope in some way I’ve been able to touch you as well.”

Wearing was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served as a tail-gunner on a famed B17 nicknamed the “Five Grand.” He went on 35 missions within five months.

“When I met him at the International Conference on World War II in New Orleans a couple years back he told me he had flown in 35 missions. I couldn’t believe it,” said Derek Reynolds, a retired lieutenant colonel who came to Wearing’s celebration.

Because Wearing’s crew flew in French campaigns, Reynolds is submitting the veteran for a French Legion of Honor Medal.

Wearing, who’s been in more than 40 quartets over the years, also joined many singing partners Sunday to celebrate his life.

“I was always in awe of his energy and positivity. To me that’s what he’s always been,” said Wearing’s son, Tom. “He just worked so hard. … He lives his life with rare joy. I wish I could be more like him; I tend to be more … realistic. He’s just an amazing fellow.”


Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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