CRANBERRY TWP — Navy veteran Ed Borrebach never thought he would live to see 75, much less 100.
“It's unbelievable,” said Borrebach, who reached the milestone in July.
Borrebach's life was celebrated Sunday at Dutilh United Methodist Church, 270 Dutilh Road, by church members.
Not only did they celebrate his birthday, but also an important part of his life — Borrebach's service in World War II.
Borrebach, who was born in Medford, Mass., on July 3, 1919, was honored with a World War II Victory Medal by congregants Ken Frishkorn, a Marine Corps veteran, and Shawn Bliss, who recently returned from the Air Force after his six years of service.
“You are truly a member of the greatest generation of Americans,” Bliss said as he presented the honor to Borrebach.
Frishkorn worked to get Borrebach the medal, he said. When he saw the excitement in veterans who received their medals, he wanted Borrebach to feel the same.
“How many people's lives did he save by doing that?” Frishkorn asked about Borrebach's service in the war. “I appreciate everything all the veterans have done. I think they all deserve a recognition.”
Borrebach's son, Don Borrebach, said it felt great to be at the service.
“I'm very proud of my father,” he said.
After high school, Borrebach worked as a draftsman at Stone and Webster Engineering Corp. in Boston. He was offered deferment from military service because his work was part of the Manhattan Project.
Instead, he chose to enlist in the Navy as a petty officer second class on Jan. 14, 1943, at the age of 23.
“That was the thing to do,” Borrebach said about why he enlisted.
Although an ailment caused his vision to suffer when he was growing up, he was able to enter the Navy, he said.
Borrebach trained as a naval anti-aircraft gunner when he was first stationed in Norfolk, Va. Later, he transferred to the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., where he worked on a top-secret sonar project.
He married Dorothy Gordon on June 6, 1944. Coincidently, that happened the same day as D-Day, so he could never forget his anniversary. The couple was married for 53 years and had four children. Dorothy died in 1998.
Borrebach was discharged on Feb. 7, 1946, at the rank of chief petty officer. Back in Boston, he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Tufts University through the GI Bill.
In 1950, Westinghouse Electric Corp. brought Borrebach to Pittsburgh. Over the 35 years at the business, Borrebach developed an international reputation in the design of transformers for the steel industry. In 1980, he was honored with the Order of Merit.
In 2001, he married Fran Gibson. Between them, they have seven children, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Borrebach has always been active in his church and served as an Explorer Boy Scout leader.
The three years and three months of service were worth it, Borrebach said.
“I'd do it again if I had the chance,” he said.
World War II Victory Medal
The World War II Victory Medal commemorates military service during World War II and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands.
This medal is awarded for any active duty or Reserve service period between Dec. 7, 1941, and Dec. 31, 1946.
The medal is 1.25 inches in diameter, bearing in front the figure of liberation holding a broken sword in the dawn.
The ribbon is predominantly red with wide rainbow borders.
SOURCE: Air Force's Personnel Center