VA Central Ohio Healthcare System
Event Marks Local Veteran's 100th Birthday
COLUMBUS, OH – Local World War II Veteran Marion Chard is celebrating his 100th birthday on March 6 and his daughter, Sally Kosnik, is organizing a drive-by birthday party at his condo in Columbus starting at 1:00 p.m. on March 5.
A 100th birthday is an important occasion for anyone, but with COVID-19 still impacting our daily lives, celebrations for Mr. Chard will be limited. This won’t be the first time COVID-19 has altered his plans. On Veterans Day 2020 he was unable to dress up in uniform and attend events at school with his great-grandchildren like he has in the past.
The isolation and reduced human interaction are challenging for an extravert like Mr. Chard which is why his daughter was inspired to give her father an unforgettable memory. He will celebrate on the front porch of his condo in Dublin, Ohio wearing his Navy uniform for a pandemic-era drive-by birthday party. Anyone who is interested in participating in this drive-by birthday should plan to meet at Tuttle Mall in the JC Penny parking lot A on March 5 at 12:45 p.m.
Mr. Chard is proud of his time in the Navy and his daughter describes him as, “No Nobel Peace Prize winner or anything like that, but he is modest and kind,” and she insists, “We have to recognize the common, ordinary people that are so important in our lives.”
Mr. Chard was born in Rockwell City, Iowa in 1921 and raised in nearby Audubon. His father managed and owned a canning company in Audubon while his mom stayed home and raised him and his younger brother.
After graduating high school, he studied commerce at State University of Iowa, now the University of Iowa, and during his junior year in 1941, he joined the Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Once it was evident many men may be drafted to serve in the War, Mr. Chard knew he wanted to become an officer. Six months later he enlisted in the Navy as a seaman apprentice, dropped out of ROTC and agreed to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) immediately after graduation.
In July 1943 Mr. Chard commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and after only a few days at home to get married, he arrived in San Francisco in August. A long way from home and with very limited knowledge of what was in front of him Ensign Chard was enroute to the South Pacific a few weeks later.
During his time in the South Pacific, Ensign Chard served aboard the battleship USS Washington where he frequently manned gun turrets, keeping watch for kamikaze attacks and enemy ships.
For almost two years he was away from his family and he even missed the birth of his oldest child, Jim, born in December 1944. Ensign Chard did not receive news of the birth until two weeks later via letter and had to wait an additional month to see the first photographs of his son.
After more than three years of active Naval service and reserve service until the 1950s, Mr. Chard left the Navy as a lieutenant junior grade and returned to Iowa to begin a career in purchasing in Marshalltown at Fisher Governor Company while raising his three children. Around 1975, he and his wife, Natalie, moved across the country and settled down near New Haven, Connecticut until he retired.
In 2006 he and Natalie moved to Columbus because Natalie became ill and they thought it would be best if they lived near their daughter, Sadly, Mr. Chard lost his beloved wife of 70 years when she passed away in 2013.
Sally and three of his granddaughters live in Columbus and they all provide a strong support network for him. Mr. Chard is most proud of his three children, nine grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, but closely behind is his pride and love for our nation.