SARASOTA, Fla. — A Manatee County World War II veteran who was set to celebrate his 100th birthday by himself got a very welcome surprise instead, courtesy of his family and a number of area veterans' groups.

What You Need To Know

  • William Cheeseman served in the Navy in World War II at 16 years old

  • Patriot Guard Riders, other groups gave Cheeseman a birthday parade

  • More Good News stories

Family and friends of veteran William Cheeseman made it their mission to make sure his 100th birthday was very special, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He is wonderful," said friend Jan Schneider. "I care for him dearly.”

A wonderful man, and also a hero. At just 16 years old, Cheeseman served in the Navy during World War II.

Because of COVID-19, he was planning to spend his birthday alone.

“Who wants to be in a pandemic and have your 100th birthday all alone?” says Schneider.  

To keep that from happening, Cheeseman's family invited the Patriot Guard Riders and other veteran organizations for a surprise drive-by celebration. 


“It is such an honor to celebrate this with him,” says Henry Hyde from the Patriot Guard Riders. “Any time we can honor these World War II vets — they are our real heroes." 

Dozens of cars and veteran motorcycle groups drove by Cheeseman's home, honking and waving as they yelled “happy birthday.” 

Cheeseman may have celebrated this day a hundred times in his life, but he said this one was one to remember.

“Thank you so much for coming,” says Cheeseman.