MEXICO, Mo. - A native Missourian and decorated World War II veteran turned 100 on Thursday.
Perry Reams, originally from Centralia, celebrated his birthday with about 40 veterans and veterans home staff and dozens of family members who gathered in the dining hall inside the veterans home in Mexico, Mo.
Reams served in the U.S. Army as a tech sergeant with the 743rd Tank Battalion from 1942-1945.
He was in the first tanks that landed in Normandy, France, during WWII, fighting in the front lines, Reams said, in the first wave of assaults in the Battle of Normandy.
"Landing on Omaha Beach has always been something I'll never forget. I'll always remember that 2,000," said Reams, of the men who fought and died on the the French shores.
Reams was lively and happy to see the hundred people who showed up for his birthday.
He wore a cap with Omaha Beach stitched in the back and his infantry division sewed on the front.
His son, Garry Reams, said his father spoke very little about the war, and was a family man to him and his sister, who were both grateful to see about 20 relatives attending the party.
Other family members flew in from Atlanta and drove in from St. Louis and his hometown of Centralia.
Reams sat in a motorized car next to his younger sister, surrounded by nieces and nephews and grandchildren.
He said he's getting too old, but for his next birthday when he turns 101, he wants to ride in a little red Corvette.