A resident of Alexandria celebrated his 100th birthday on Tuesday, a major milestone in the life of a man that those close to him were keen to mark.
J. David Bailey was only 10 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, and 12 years later Bailey would be thrust into the crucible of the fight against tyranny.
In 1944, he took part in the Ardennes offensive.
“Being in the Battle of the Bulge – I didn’t choose that as the place to be. I happened to be there at that exact moment,” Bailey said.
He and his entire battalion were captured, but he was among the lucky ones. His captivity was cut short when he escaped.
“Eighty thousand casualties and 19,000 killed. It was a very sad situation,” he said. “I made the best of a bad situation.”
Today, his memories intertwine with his post-war career as an analyst and statistician. For the past 45 years, he has called Alexandria his home, and on Tuesday, city leaders helped mark a century of life well lived and the service that distinguishes that life.
Bailey is a humble man. He doesn’t like to talk about all those accomplishments, and if it were up to him, Tuesday’s ceremony might not have happened. But, it wasn’t up to him.
His birthday was actually in January. His neighbors wanted to throw him a party, but he wouldn’t let them.
“I said, ‘Fuck with you, we’re not partying, we’ll do other things,'” one woman said.
“These men and women of World War II achieved this freedom for us and it is very important for us to remember this and not forget it,” said Barabara Mooneyhan.
Bailey has not forgotten her upbringing in West Virginia and the faith she left in her. It went well with his military training.
“We’ve always had angel books around. My mother believed in angels so I have a guardian angel,” he said.