Senior Living: A War Veteran is Recognized

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What does a man who served the U.S. Army and Marines from beginning to end of World War II do these days?

We go out and have a drink with my girlfriends,” said Linda Dahl of her father, Andy Aiken.

Celebrations were most definitely in order for Andy after he received seven medals and awards honoring his service shortly before his 90th birthday.

After joining the Army at age 18, Andy served in Hawaii, where he was stationed at Schofield Barracks and had the opportunity to see the U.S.S. Arizona before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Andy worked 12-hour shifts for six months at a time, commanding boats that carried cargo and troops in the Pacific. He also helped retrieve injured soldiers from the front lines.

“He loved the service,” said Linda, “He’s very patriotic.”

After his discharge, Andy returned to his place of employment prior to the war, Bethlehem Steel Corporation at Sparrows Point in Baltimore County.

Andy and his late wife of 54 years, Bertha, have two children and seven grandchildren.

After he had been living alone for nine years, Andy’s children saw signs that their father needed a place to live where he would be safe from harm. He would stand on chairs to change light bulbs, and Linda recalled an incident in which her father drove out to get lunch and fell, breaking his arm.

“Basically, his mind was willing, but his body was weak,” said Linda.

Andy eventually moved into Jacob’s Well, an assisted living residence in Bel Air, Md. According to Linda, the beautiful, rural setting appealed to their family. The small and close-knit community allowed Andy to become better acquainted with his new neighbors.

Having lived at Jacob’s Well for more than a year, Andy is now what his daughter refers to as the ‘King of the Walk.’

“He is able to converse with the administrators and the girls,” joked Linda.

Because most of Andy’s friends have passed away, his daughter feels at ease knowing that he is surrounded by people his age and with whom he shares common interests.

“But then again, he thinks he’s 50,” said Linda.

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