WWII Navy vet gets Coast Guard cruise for his 103rd birthday

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 11:59am

Harry Miller looked right at home on a Coast Guard patrol boat on Monday, telling one of the officers on board about his time in the U.S. Navy.

"You are taking me back 70 years," he said. "70 years since I was discharged."

Miller served on the USS Wiseman during World War II.

A destroyer escort, the Wiseman escorted convoys across the Atlantic.

"We ran into a pack of German subs right off Gibraltar," Miller recalled.

Miller can tell some pretty good war stories, not bad for a guy celebrating his 103rd birthday.

Nicole Wilson of the Preserve at Palm-Aire retirement home arranged for the cruise, Miller's ultimate birthday gift.

The Coast Guard Station at Miami Beach set him up with a tour, lunch, a pin and a lasting memory.

"What better way to give back to a veteran?" said Lt. Traci-Ann Fiammetta.

The Coast Guard crew were all smiles as Miller talked them up, giving his recipe for a long life: not smoking, being athletic, working out and dancing a lot.

"People should dance. It will give them exercise and enjoyment," he said, confirming the bonus of "lots of pretty girls" with a chuckle. "At 103, I am still interested."

After the boat trip Miller, his friends and the crew went to lunch at the Coast Guard base in Miami Beach.

There, as Miller blew out the candles on his birthday cake, he got teary.

Overwhelmed, he thanked everyone while dabbing his eyes with a napkin.

"Best birthday I have ever had," he said.

Considering how many Miller has had, it was really saying something.

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