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Marine veteran celebrates her 97th birthday

Ronelva Vernon is turning 97 years old on Monday. Of course, she’s most excited about cutting into her birthday cake. But even more than that, she likes to bring out her favorite things to remind her of the great life she’s lived.

“This is my old U.S. Marine cup that I used,” said Vernon, tapping the cup. Nearly eight decades later, she’s still using that same cup.

The cup and other things help remind her of her days in uniform and why she even wanted to serve in the first place.

“When I was 18, everyone was so patriotic for World War II because the Japanese bombed our ships and I wanted to join the Coast Guard but my parents would not sign for me so the minute I turned 21 I went and joined the Marine Corps and I’m glad I did,” Vernon explained.

Her home is filled with reminders and mementos of her time in the Marines, all in pristine condition. Her favorite part is the patriotism she shares with her husband of sixty years, Army Veteran Frederick Vernon.

“Both parents taught us to respect each other and love your country they’re very patriotic both of them,” said Ronelva’s son Fred.

Two of Vernon’s five children came to town today to celebrate their mom’s special day, and most importantly be there when she cut into that cake she’s been waiting for.

“I like cake! Cake and ice cream are good,” Vernon exclaimed

But you wanna know what Ronelva Vernon really just wants for her 97th birthday? “I’d like a good haircut. I’d like to go and get my haircut,” she said.

Being in quarantine has made a lot of things difficult for everyone including Vernon. No haircuts and celebrating birthdays is different now. But, on this particular birthday, she’s grateful for her health and for her community of veterans.

Vernon would like to leave you with her advice on living a long and happy life. “Find the right person to be with for the rest of your life,” she said.

Her drive-by birthday celebration was canceled due to possible storms. But Vernon said she was counting on the WINK Weather team to keep her updated on what’s going on outdoors.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Drew Hill
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