WWII Vet celebrates 100th birthday, 2nd book

CARA MORNINGSTAR/Sun-Gazette
Steve Hunter, author of "From The Command Car," a book about Sgt. Charles Libby's life, left, shares the cover of the second novel, "100 Years of Stories," with Libby, right, during the 100th birthday celebration of Libby, U.S. Army veteran who served in the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion during World War II, at Nippenose Valley Village, Oval, on Sunday.

CARA MORNINGSTAR/Sun-Gazette Steve Hunter, author of "From The Command Car," a book about Sgt. Charles Libby's life, left, shares the cover of the second novel, "100 Years of Stories," with Libby, right, during the 100th birthday celebration of Libby, U.S. Army veteran who served in the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion during World War II, at Nippenose Valley Village, Oval, on Sunday.

OVAL — Sgt. Charles Libby, a World War II Army veteran who served in the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to Gen. George S. Patton, celebrated his 100th birthday among family and friends at the Nippenose Valley Village senior living community on Sunday.

Friends and family packed the room expressing their gratitude to Libby for his service.

“We had a job to do, and we did it well,” Libby said, humbled by the acknowledgements.

Steve Hunter, author of “From The Command Car,” a book about Libby’s life, announced during the celebration that a second novel is being released about Libby’s experiences entitled, “100 Years of Stories.”

Hunter presented Libby with the title of the new novel as a surprise for his birthday.

“Thank you so much for being here today for this celebration for a great man, Mr. Charles Libby,” Hunter said.

Although Libby’s birthday is not officially until Oct. 3, it did not stop the large crowd of at least 100 people from celebrating in his honor.

“There’s so many different people here from so many different areas of his world,” Hunter said. “There’s so many faces that he sees everyday when I take him out to do things. Thank you all for coming, and we appreciate it.”

He said he met Libby through Libby’s son 10 years ago for the veteran’s 90th birthday where Hunter offered to help DJ the event.

“We were at the convention center, and I’m over at my table. They said, ‘he’ll be here any second,” Hunter said.

He said he was watching the door, waiting for Libby to enter the facility.

“He snuck in… but when he snuck in, he about ran across the floor. I’m still looking at the door waiting for this 90 year old man with a walker or cane or something,” Hunter said. “But he came right across the floor … and I could not believe it.”

He joked that he would start bottling the water at Libby’s house to sell it by the case. The 100th celebration included dancing, one of Libby’s favorite activities to match his lively spirit.

“I found him to just be so fascinating that I wanted to be the guy to write his book,” Hunter said.

For three years, they did interviews until they were able to write the book with Libby’s stories. Of course, once the book was published, Libby continued to tell Hunter more stories as they traveled to visit different areas and promote it.

“He’s not only become a person that I get to write about, he’s become a very close friend and to me, like a second father,” Hunter said. “He’s a remarkable person.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, said it was an honor to be able to celebrate with Libby.

“My grandfather fought in World War II,” Marino said. “I was at Normandy beach about a year and a half ago, and it still sticks with me. That vast open ocean and beach, and what you and others faced without feeling reservation at all to bring democracy around the world.”

Marino said he speaks of the importance of military to his family often.

“Without men and women like you, we wouldn’t live the life of freedom that we have. From the bottom of my heart and from my family’s heart, I want to thank you so very much,” Marino said.

Rick Mirabito and Jack McKernan, county commissioners, presented a citation to honor Libby’s service.

“On behalf of all the people of Lycoming County, we say thank you,” McKernan said.

Mirabito shared the sentiments.

“What you have for us is wisdom, and we hope that you will share that with us as much as you can,” Mirabito said. “That’s what us young’uns are in need of to make this world a better place. Thank you very much.”

Gabriel J. Campana, Williamsport mayor, said that he was so grateful to be there to celebrate and asked all veterans to stand to be honored.

“You are true Americans,” he said.

Campana also said that the city of Williamsport would be celebrating with Libby on his official birthday.

“I hereby proclaim Oct. 3 as Charles Libby day in Williamsport,” he said.

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