STOCKTON, Calif. (CBS News) — At the age of 104, Major Bill White remains every inch the U.S. marine he was in World War II.
In the battle for Iwo Jima, a grenade exploded beside him.
“It proceeded to blow the hell out of me,” he said.
He’s seen combat, but he’s never seen so many Valentines.
Every day for weeks, Valentine cards and gifts have been arriving by the truckload at the Oaks Assisted Living Center, all addressed to Major White.
It started simply enough when staff at the Oaks and Major White’s daughter Mary made a small request on social media.
“We were hoping, you know, one hundred four years old,” said Mary. “We get a hundred and four valentines.”
“The last account somebody ever, ever gave me was 140,000 different pieces – a hundred forty thousand!” said the major.
Now almost every surface at the assisted living center is covered with valentines.
They come from school children and veterans and families that know the sacrifice of service
“Both my father and father-in-law served in world war ii,” said Mary. “Sadly they are both gone.”
Mary and Major White read as many as they can.
“Mary, and this is one of my favorite cards,” said the major. “It’s very short. But it just says you’ve stolen the hearts of America.”
Perhaps never before has Valentine’s Day brought one person more affection.