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Sandy Journal

100-year-old veteran enjoys his life

Nov 23, 2020 11:52AM ● By Stephanie De Graw

Tony Borrero at 100 years old living in Cedarwood, a senior living center in Sandy, Utah. (Photo contributed)

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected]

Tony Borrero, a local veteran, survived in a tent in the deep jungle of New Guinea for three years during World War II. 

"There was no electricity, no water, no pillow, no sheets—just an army blanket and a tent," Borrero said. The 100-year-old served in the US Air Force and called it a "great adventure."

He missed his father's guitar playing and hearing music on the radio while in the jungle. He ate many bananas. 

Borrero had gone into the service after graduating from Heywood High School in California in 1939. He was the second to youngest of nine children. His parents were from Puerto Rico.

Borrero still celebrates Veterans Day. "I like watching the Veterans Day parades. It always reminds me of when I was a young fellow and participated in them," he said. 

During World War II, Borrero's squadron was part of Operation Plum. The unit traveled from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines to reinforce the Hawaiian islands from the Japanese attack. A quick stop in Australia to resupply went awry when Borrero missed the ship's movement. Other service members from Operation Plum landed in the Philippines and were captured when Bataan fell to the Japanese. Many service members died on the Bataan Death March. Borrero missed the march by two days.

Borrero went on to serve with the 480th Service Squadron 5th Air Force in Australia and New Guinea between 1941 and 1944.

After the war, he was assigned to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City. Borrero met his wife while at Camp Kearns, an Army Air Force base in Utah. He enjoyed taking Ludivina “Vina” to dinner. Borrero made $21 a month and had $6 leftover to date his future wife. Borrero said he has loved his long-lasting marriage and said, "We've never had a harsh word between us."  

The couple relished the military lifestyle, which offered them travel opportunities. They were stationed in Casablanca, Morocco for three years. They spent time in Japan, Wyoming, Ohio, and several places in California. When they weren't aboard, the family lived in California and Utah. Borrero was a Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force and an airplane mechanic. He served another 20 years in the Reserves and the Civil Service. 

Some of the hobbies Borrero has enjoyed throughout his life are woodworking and reading. He also used to have a greenhouse where he raised flowers. "We've had a very good life," he said.

The couple currently resides at Cedarwood, a senior living center in Sandy. Beforehand, Borrero was the caregiver for eight years for his 96-year-old wife, who is now blind. They have two sons, Michael of South Jordan and Anthony of California.  

The couple is a part of the “Greatest Generation” of men and women who fought because it was the "right thing to do.” “The Greatest Generation” was the title of a 1998 book by journalist Tom Brokaw. In the book, Brokaw profiled American members of this generation who came of age during The Great Depression. Many of them fought in World War II or contributed to the war effort on the home front.