JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Our country's World War II veterans are disappearing by the hundreds each day. They're a generation that we owe so much to, both in war and in peace.
Monday the state of Tennessee honored a man living in an assisted living home in Johnson City who is recognized the oldest living World War II veteran in the state.
Jason Snyder sports his American pride as he walks into his birthday party in his red coat and American flag tie. His friends at the Colonial Hills assisted living center sing an enthusiastic "Happy Birthday" -- Monday is Jason's 104th birthday.
As far as the state of Tennessee can tell, he is the oldest World War II veteran in the state. "He loves his country, he is very humble, he is a lifelong public servant. He served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs before he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943," Many-Bears Grinder of the State Commission for Veterans Affairs said.
He was brought to tears that someone from the governor's office would come to recognize him and his service to his country. "I hope somebody thanks the governor for doing that," Jason said.
He got a proclamation, a Tennessee flag flown in his honor over the capitol, and a special coin from the commissioner.
His younger brother John, who's 78, says there's one thing that Jason attributes to his longevity. "Jason always said what could contribute to his long life for, and he always said the Bible says 'honor thy father and mother and the days of this earth will be long,'" John says.
And that has brought him to 104, notwithstanding his service to his country. "None of us should every pass up an opportunity to express our gratitude to our veterans, whether it's World War II or someone who just returned from Afghanistan. Truly our freedom lays squarely on their backs," the commissioner said.
And even at 104, Jason Snyder carries that freedom proudly.