“I didn’t know if I was going out of my mind or what,” James Lindsey, of Vancleave, Mississippi, told ABC News. “They got me good.”
Lindsey, who was born on March 20, 1917, watched the surprise unfold from the passenger seat of an ATV vehicle outside the home he shares with his daughter and son-in-law.
The motorcyclists in the motorcade were members of Patriot Guard Riders, an organization that honors veterans. After arriving at the house, they stood on foot along the driveway with American flags.
“[Lindsey] was saluting the flags the whole way with a big smile on his face,” said Sandie Schlett, assistant state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders.
The Patriot Guard Riders worked alongside Lindsey’s home health-care provider, Camellia Healthcare, to organize the surprise, which Lindsey called his biggest birthday celebration ever.
Lindsey served as a U.S. Army mechanic during World War II and served in the Mississippi National Guard before retiring in 1977. He has outlived two wives and has two great-grandchildren and three grandchildren, all offspring of his only child, Lanora Demoran.
“We were a little concerned it might be overwhelming for him, that he might want to retreat, but he loved every minute of it,” said Demoran, who, along with her husband, Michael Demoran, is her dad’s caregiver. “He’s still talking about it and is just amazed that so many people have come together and wanted to help him celebrate his birthday.”
Lindsey was also surprised on Monday with proclamations and letters of congratulations from state officials, including the governor of Mississippi. A nearby town where Lindsey served in the police force also deemed March 20, 2017, as “James Lindsey Day.”
The celebration was capped off by a birthday cake.
“He held a cigar in his hand the whole time and he finally let go of the cigar to eat some cake,” Schlett, of the Patriot Guard Riders, recalled.
Lanora Demoran, who was adopted by her parents when they were in their 40s, said she attributes her dad’s longevity and good health to always staying busy.
“He’s never been one to sit in front of the TV all day and I’m a firm believer that’s what has kept him going,” she said. "Even now, he may not be able to tell you what happened last week but he can tell you what happened 50 years ago."
Lindsey said he doesn’t “know anything that’s special” about how he has lived such a long, happy life.
“I just lived day to day,” he said. “No fussing and fighting.”