WWII veteran turns 100 two days before Independence Day

HAMBURG, NY (WIVB) – “I’m feeling pretty good,” said Nathan Alessandra, who turned 100 on July 2.

The village of Hamburg and Alessandra’s family surprised him on Saturday with a parade and ceremony to honor his 100th journey around the sun.

“I never thought that so many people would come to celebrate my birthday,” Alessandra said.

Alessandra served in the US Air Force during World War II, most of his tour landing near Rackheath, England. For his service, Alessandra received the European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, the American Theater Service Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Medal.

He was one of four brothers who served our country during the war and said he thinks of them a lot.

“I dedicate this day to my three other brothers who have served in the service,” Alessandra said. “One in particular died in the South Pacific.”

His brother Alfred was killed in action two months before the end of the war. He accepted the Purple Heart in Alfred’s honor.

“I always think of him. He’s always on my mind,” he said.

Alessandra’s love for his family continues to grow to this day. His family traveled from all over the country to surprise him. His granddaughter, Kelly Perkins, traveled from Seattle to celebrate the man who always showed up for her and his community.

“He’s always involved,” Perkins said. “He drives this scooter through Hamburg every day and looks for employment opportunities. He likes people and would always do anything to help people.”

Anyone who knows Pops knows he’s 100 years young. According to his family, he has a Facebook account, the latest iPhone and loves watching Buffalo sports.

But if you’re wondering what his key to his youthfulness is – he says it’s down to the love of his family.

“They keep me going. I have a wonderful family,” Alessandra said. “I love them very much and they love me. That means a lot.”

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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