Central Texas veteran Edward Leroy Cryer celebrates 100th birthday

Published: Apr. 8, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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ELM MOTT, Texas (KWTX) - This year, family members and fellow veterans want to make sure Edward Leroy Cryer’s birthday is one he will always remember.

Cryer is turning 100-years-old and has served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and lived through the Great Depression.

”We lived in a house with just us three boys and my dad during the Great Depression,” Cryer said. “My mother died when I was a kid, but my dad kept us three together.”

Family members with the help of officials from American Legion Post 121 organized a special birthday party at the post on Saturday.

At the party, post officials presented Cryer with a custom plaque for his 100th birthday. The plaque recognized Cryer’s time on the “USS Louisville” during World War II.

“He doesn’t think of himself as a hero at all,” Cryer’s granddaughter Mindi Masten said. “He just sees himself as someone who wanted to give back to his country and do what was right at that time.”

Family members even made stickers and koozies in honor of “the man, the myth, the legend.”

”He’s just a player, a jokester and likes to have fun,” Masten said. “This huge turnout, he couldn’t have asked for more.”

In 1939 he enlisted in the U.S., just months before the start of World War II.

”I believe he was 17 at the time, so he had to lie in order to get in even before we got into the war,” Brian Collins, American Legion Post 121 executive officer, said.

He eventually climbed the ranks, becoming a second class boatsmate and essentially running the ship.

“He told me he pointed out targets for the gunners and everything,” Collins said.

Now on his 100th birthday, Crier said he has no regrets.

”Being in the navy, if I could join now, I’d join tomorrow,” Crier said.

His service even attracted the attention of the Texas House of Representatives. Rep. Doc Anderson (R - Waco) sent him a Texas flag flown over the Texas Capitol for his birthday. Cryer got emotional as he received the gift.

”To us he’s just papa, but to others he’s seen as a hero,” Masten said.

Cryer said the secret to living a long life is having a good wife who keeps him in good health. He and his wife were married for 65 years before she passed away.