World War II veteran Russell Vaudrey received a rather noisy surprise to help him celebrate his 99th birthday on July 10. Woodstock Police Officer Shane Bonebrake organized a caravan of 15 police and fire vehicles – with lights flashing and sirens blaring – to visit the veteran at his Towne Lake home.
Bonebrake met Vaudrey, who served in WWII as a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, at LongHorn Steakhouse. Vaudrey was wearing a WWII veteran hat, and when Bonebrake went over to thank him for his service, he learned the veteran was about to celebrate his 99th birthday. After a bit of planning with Vaudrey’s daughter and members of area public service agencies, Bonebrake organized a drive-in birthday party.
“When I met this guy, I immediately saw my grandpa in him. I thought that I wanted to honor him for his birthday,” Bonebrake said. “My grandpa was a WWII veteran; he was one of my heroes.”
Vaudrey’s daughter, Sharon, and other family members, were with him in the front yard, taking birthday photos, when representatives of the Woodstock, Canton and Holly Springs police departments, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department and Marshal’s Office, Woodstock Fire and Cherokee County Fire/EMS arrived.
“We have a living hero in Woodstock, so we were going to celebrate him,” Bonebrake said. “We were going to make some noise.”
Bonebrake presented Vaudrey with his favorite cake from Alpine Bakery, a gift certificate to LongHorn steakhouse, and a wooden flag made by fireman David Sargenski and signed by public service personnel from around Cherokee County.
Stay tuned. Plans for the 100th birthday celebration are underway, but don’t tell Mr. Vaudrey! It’s going to be a surprise that Bonebrake promises will be unforgettable.