As the crew chief of the 498th Bomb Group in World War II, Tech Sgt. Albin Linsenbardt lived through air sirens, bombing and strafing. Some of his comrades and friends weren't so fortunate.
However, on Sunday, as several dozen people celebrated his 102nd birthday at the VFW Post 1003 in St. Martins, he said he mostly has fond memories of his life. All in all, Lindsenbardt said, he's had a great life, and he attributed his longevity to his late wife, Jacqueline.
"I had a good caretaker, my wife. We were married 74 and one half years," he said before the program. "She was a gal from Raleigh, North Carolina. She had a sister in Jefferson City, and I met her on a blind date, and I decided she must be the one for me."
Linsenbardt was married before he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942.
He became a crew chief who supervised ground crews that maintained and repaired the B-29 Superfortress, a state-of-the-art WWII airplane that had four engines powering propellers, a pressurized cabin and a system that allowed one gunner and a fire-control officer to direct four remote machine gun turrets.
B-29s also dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, helping to end World War II.
After his career in the military, Linsenbardt worked for 20 years in Texas before moving to Jefferson City, retiring at Westinghouse in 1982.
"I grew up in horse and buggy days, and now I have a telephone you take pictures with. It's hard to believe," he said.
He was honored Sunday as an example of one of the Greatest Generation, a WWII veteran who did his job with humility.
Jeremy Amick, public affairs officer of Silver Star Families of America, presented Linsenbardt with the Missouri Veterans Good Conduct Award.
Among others honoring Linsenbardt was Brig. Gen. Levon Cumpton, the adjunct general of the Missouri National Guard.
He read a letter from Gov. Mike Parson to Linsenbardt, which said in part: "I would especially like to commend you for your faithful efforts for your nation and your community as you courageously served in World War II. I commend you for the impact you made in the lives of so many men and women who have lived and served alongside you."
Cumpton, Missouri's senior military officer, said it was men and women like Linsenbardt who have set the course for our country "for so many of us to admire and be like." That example, he said, helped make him who he is today.
"The fight that you took to the enemy to come out and win and secure our freedom, not just our freedom, but other countries' freedoms," Cumpton said. "And then to come back and be so humble throughout your life. That's one of the things that I love most about your generation, the humility in which you all carry yourself, which is something for us all to reflect on and admire."
Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Jefferson City, presented Linsenbardt with a plaque on behalf of himself and Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City. He also presented him with a resolution passed by the Missouri House.
"In our generation, we have a hard time understanding and realizing what you went through in the war," Veit said. "It's people like you who have kept that memory alive so people understand what you have fought and died for."
After the ceremony, Linsenbardt and the several dozen people in attendance were treated to a cake and punch reception.