World War II veteran John Pedan has lived through the Great Depression, 17 U.S. Presidents, serving his country and countless other milestones — big and small.
Pedan celebrated his 100th birthday this year and he's still spry mentally and physically. Pedan recalls events from his life with ease, and he and his son, Carl, do an hour-and-a-half of yoga twice a week.
“We’ve been doing it for about five months now,” Carl Pedan said as he was helping his father into their home in the Chapel Hills subdivision in Douglasville. “I hurt my shoulder about 30 years ago and now it almost feels just as good as it did before I hurt it.”
Some other activities that Pedan enjoys with his son Carl are going on bicycle trips for miles along the Silver Comet Trail.
Pedan thanks God for letting him see this year’s birthday. He said he surrendered his life to Christ in 1963 when he was 46. In 1997, Pedan said that he had a brief heart murmur scare, but he was able to walk out of the hospital. His oldest son died in 2002 due to heart problems among other complications.
“I don’t know, I’ve never been there before,” Pedan said with a laugh when asked how being 100 feels. “I’ll tell you. I feel very well for my [age].”
Pedan still has the power to walk around his home and the memory to recall some of his favorite moments in his lifetime. He was drafted into the Army Air Corps in World War II. He remembers the American bases like Camp Shanks in New York by the Hudson River, where he always just missed seeing his brother who was also serving in the war. He can recall that French trains weren’t built for comfort, he had his best meal in Southeast Italy after being extremely hungry, and that he was Belgium when the U.S. dropped its first bomb on Japan.
After World War II, he worked in Mobile, Alabama, where he continued to work from 1945-1967. He later worked as a senior mechanic, a job in which he was making $1.05 an hour. He was earning $10 an hour by the time he left. After moving around the South for a couple of years in between his home state of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, Pedan retired in 1977 and moved back to Mobile.
Carl Pedan called his father and mother in 2006 and told them that he wanted to be the couple’s caregiver for the rest of their lives. Carl worked at Lockheed Martin in Marietta.
“Carl, my son. He’s a wonderful caregiver. He is a wonderful son. He’s very intelligent in so many ways. So resourceful. I’m greatly blessed to have him take care of me,” Pedan said.
Pedan's wife of 73 years died in 2015.
All of Pedan’s living children came to Georgia to celebrate Pedan’s 100th birthday. Ninety people attended the party in total and each received a medallion created by his stepson, John Simmons, that honors his life. The gold medallion shows his full name, John Houston Pedan, his date of birth, Oct. 26, 1917, the numeral ‘100’ in a big font and an image that’s a recreation of a photo he took in Italy back in 1944 while serving his country.
This past Monday the Douglasville City Council honored Pedan with a proclamation.
Pedan appears to be content with the course of his life. He said living with his son keeps his spirits up and that now he’s just taking it one day at a time.