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Living Legend: Decatur World War II veteran Ross Malone Jr. turns 100

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Ross Malone Jr.

WWII Veteran & Decatur native, Ross Malone Jr., celebrates 100th Birthday

Want to know the secret of life? Just ask Ross Malone Jr.

"Keep looking up, talking to that man above, that's it," he said while pointing upward.

That, and good genes. Seriously.

His grandfather lived to be 112 years old.

His father lived to be 104 years old.

And on Thursday, Malone celebrated turning 100!

His DNA also runs rich in our nation's military. His grandfather served in the Spanish American War, and his father served in World War I.

Before he was drafted by the Army in World War II, Malone wanted to play baseball. In fact, he played against some of the greatest men to ever take the field.

"Jackie Robinson, Luke Easter, and we played right here in Decatur," he recalled.

There's no question Malone has seen a lot during his 100 years. Some memories are sharper than others these days, but stories from his time in the Army still hold strong.

"We landed at Omaha Beach nine days after D-Day," explained Malone.

The images of that day are still crystal clear.

"It hurts, it hurts," as emotions and memories came flooding back to him. "You could see bodies all out there in the harbor, but you couldn't do anything to help them, you had to keep moving."

Malone served in France, Belgium and Holland.

"973 — that was my outfit number," he proudly exclaimed. "We had a service company, the Red Ball Express."

Staffed primarily with Black soldiers, the famed convoy system supplied Allied forces moving quickly through Europe.

"(And) then we'd guard the German POWs. That was our duty, and the stockade," he added.

It wasn't all terrible.

"My uncle was in Belgium. That's where I met my uncle, and that's the first place we got ice cream," he said before pausing and continuing with a smile. "That was beautiful."

Not to mention, he served alongside a few others you may know.

"I saw Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. They were in our outfit in Augusta, Georgia."

He still recalls one of the first things he did when he returned from war.

"When we came back, we went to a theater in New York. Buddy Johnson's band was there, and his sister sang 'Uncle Sam Ain't No Woman, but He Can Sure Get Your Man,'" he said with a laugh, "and the folks in the theater went wild."

After the war, Malone married his high school sweetheart and returned to Decatur.

"I worked at the train station for 35 years for Southern Railway."

He's now the oldest living employee of the Decatur Southern Railway Depot.

If you want to really see him smile, ask about a trip with his fellow veterans that he took a few years back to our nation's capital.

"They put us up in this 5-star hotel, fed us, and it was just beautiful."

That trip included an extra special moment at Arlington Cemetery.

"I saw Obama do that and I said, 'Wow,' and then they come around and I did the same thing, I laid the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," Malone said.

While the pandemic may have ended his golf game, as par for the course, he still presses on.

"The good lord is still keeping his loving hands on me."

He's taking time to enjoy all of life's precious moments.

From all of us here at WAAY 31, we'd like to wish Ross Malone Jr. a very happy 100th birthday and thank you for your service.

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