GROVE — More than 100 people gathered at the Grove American Legion on Tuesday night to celebrate the life and service of World War II veteran Clarence Oestreich who turns 102 years old this month.
The festivities began with a surprise parade from the Grove Civic Center to the American Legion building with people lined up along the route. A vintage WWII plane flew low over the parade route leaving a smoke trail. A large group of motorcycle riders, vintage cars and even the pastor of his church marched in his honor.
At the American Legion building, a large dinner table included a cake honoring Clarence’s service from 1942 until 1946. Grove Mayor Ed Trumbull presented a making Tuesday Clarence Oestreich Day. State Representative Josh West presented both a proclamation form Congressman Markwayne Mullin and a citation from Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Grove second grade teacher Debbie Maris presented Osetreich with hand-drawn birthday posters to thank him for his service and bringing birthday wishes.
His stepson and his wife, Roger and Marcia Johnson, were on hand to honor him. Even 9-week-old Cason Loomis attended. Clarence was presented a mission pin by the Patriot Guard.
A table laden with nearly 100 dishes from fried fish to salads and desserts added to the celebration.
Clarence was born in 1918 and grew up in Linn, Kansas. He joined the Army in 1942 and served in Europe under Gen. George Patton. His mechanical skills helped move the Army into England, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria.
Clarence retired to Grove more than 30 years ago and has been a member of the American Legion for more than 18 years.