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General MacArthur Celebrates 83rd Birthday

Jan. 26, 1963 - Old soldier Douglas MacArthur celebrated his 83rd birthday today with five young soldiers, including the son of America’s first World War II hero. They sang “Happy Birthday” to him, and he gave them souvenirs. One of the five West Point cadets was Colin P. Kelly III, whose father, Captain Colin Purdie Kelly Jr., was shot down and killed attacking a Japanese ship three days after Pearl Harbor. It was the first time that the General of the Army had met the 23-year-old cadet. “I knew your father well,” MacArthur said as he and young Kelly shook hands. “Your dad sunk my very first Japanese cruiser for me. He was a very gallant, determined, and resourceful young officer.” Kelly flushed to the roots of his red hair when MacArthur said: “Anyone who comes from his father’s family — I’m sure will be a hero.” Mrs. MacArthur, standing to the side, handed the General five small packages. The General in turn presented them to the cadets. “When you use these, think of me, and I hope they’ll bring you luck,” he said. Inside each of the packages was two decks of playing cards — blue ones with MacArthur’s signature printed on the back and gold ones with Mrs. MacArthur’s signature.


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