A World War II veteran is celebrating his 96th birthday in Arroyo Grande on Saturday.
Frank Monforte lost his wife of 70 years in March and has not been able to hold a memorial service for her due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
To help cheer him up, Monforte's family, friends, neighbors and the organization Welcome Home Military Heroes planned a surprise drive-by birthday salute for him at Rancho Grande Park.
Monforte said he felt elated after the ceremony.
"I want to thank everyone that was here, that took the time to recognize not me, but all those who were with me in World War II, many of whom never came home," said Monforte.
He said he feels lucky to be alive and to spend time with his loved ones.
"I was no hero that I know of. I was just one of the many," he said. "The tears come to my eyes, and I thank God that He spared me."
Monforte said one of his most memorable moments from World War II was when he saw prisoners being released from prison camps, and he and his fellow comrades cried tears of joy together.
One week later, he said he and his friends broke into a San Miguel brewery.
"We found there were big tanks of beer that you could swim in," said Monforte. "I'm not much of a swimmer — I just drank."