SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you vote in South Dakota or have watched KELOLAND TV newscasts in recent years, you’re no doubt familiar with U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. Next Saturday, his 99-year-old father Harold is going to celebrate his 100th birthday.
On Thursday Thune spoke on the Senate floor about his father, a veteran of World War II.
“Dad was a Navy pilot who flew Hellcats off of the USS Intrepid, and he was an excellent pilot,” John Thune said. “He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down four enemy planes in one engagement.”
100 years covers a long time. When Harold Thune was born, World War I had been over for just about a year.
“It’s pretty remarkable really to think about a hundred years,” John Thune said. “And I know there are people now who live longer than that, but he’s seen an awful lot of life.”
This father’s life, in the words of his son, has been one “of service.”
“He spent his entire, with the exception of the time that he was in college and in the service, his life here in South Dakota, taught, coached, athletic director, drove the bus, obviously been involved in community and church and in so many ways,” John Thune said. “And so, it’s just a life of service that we’re grateful to have the opportunity to honor and to celebrate.”
Come Saturday, the celebration will be for a century.
“He does a lot of crossword puzzles, loves to have visitors, loves to chat, and but he’s in a nursing home now, and fortunately close to my sister so she can kind of look in on him,” John Thune said. “But we just feel very fortunate to have had him around for this long, to have the opportunity for our grandkids and now great-grandkids to have the chance to know him.”