Fresno World War II vet celebrates his 100th birthday with parade, cards and a mariachi band

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Not even COVID-19 could stop World War II veteran and Fresno resident Marshall Soria from celebrating his 100th birthday in style on Friday.

Friends, family - and thousands of strangers - made the milestone special for the decorated Army veteran.

His birthday on Friday was going to be celebrated with a big party, but that had to be canceled because of social distancing restrictions.

Instead, his family came up with a different way to celebrate the day - they asked for birthday cards.

And people across the country responded!

So far, Soria has received 1,587 cards that have poured in from as far as Alaska.

And that's not all.

Soria's grandchildren held a parade in honor of the veteran on Friday, with both the Fresno County Sheriff's Department and Fresno Fire participating to help celebrate the day.

The family also had a mariachi to make the occasion especially festive. They say it's been over a year and a half since Soria had danced, but on this special day, he danced for two songs with his daughters.

He is very grateful for all of the cards and birthday wishes.

Soria was born in 1920.

He survived the Spanish Flu that claimed the life of his siblings, he made it out of the Great Depression and fought in World War II.

He was on the frontlines of the "Battle of the Bulge" during World War II, walking countless miles through ridged terrain while carrying a 20-pound rifle.

The centenarian is the father of eight children and many grandchildren.

He credits his long life to his faith.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.