Over 16 million brave people served in World War II according to the US Census. This year, one Greatest Generation veteran, 98-year-old Leon Tanguay of Sanford, Maine, is getting the recognition he deserves from his hometown.

According to a press release from the City of Sanford, Tanguay was born in 1924 as one of twelve children. He spent his childhood on the family's farm, later working at the Sanford Mills and a Portland shipyard. Soon before his 19th birthday in 1943, Tanguay responded to a draft notice and was sent to England as a scout after finishing his military training.

City of Sanford
Leon and his brother Lionel (City of Sanford)

The press release explains that the young man was captured by German soldiers outside of France after going ahead of his platoon, who were traveling inland near Normandy beach. What followed for Tanguay was nine months as a prisoner of war (POW), during which he spent time "working on Germany's railroad, digging potatoes and digging holes in a forest where trees were to be planted", and also witnessing "the Nazi’s cruelty firsthand."

The camp was liberated in 1945, and Tanguay would hitchhike over 100 miles to get home.

After the war ended that September, Tanguay went on to get married, have five children, and spend fifty years working as a stonemason.

The City of Sanford, Maine, understandably wanted to honor Tanguay's service and bravery, and re-named Sherburne Street 'Tanguay Street' after the veteran. The town had already been trying to come up with a new name for the street, as a second one in nearby Springvale was also named 'Sherburne' and causing confusion as a result.

Tanguay "feels amazing" and wants "to thank the City of Sanford and my family for making this happen", according to the press release. As for his secret to a long life? Well, Tanguay encourages people to "eat good, get a good night's sleep, stay away from booze, and be the best parent you can be."

We couldn't agree more.

Thank you for your service, Tanguay. There's no one more deserving of this honor.

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