WWII veteran passes away in Scotia with wife by his side

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SCOTIA, N.Y. – A World War II veteran passed away Wednesday at the Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scotia.

Justus Belfield, 98, spent his last full day on earth in his army uniform, lying in bed at Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scotia with his wife Lillian in her own bed next to him.

Belfield had been in the facility since April 2013. Lillian was already a resident when he moved into the facility to be with her.

He spoke three languages: English, French, and German. After World War II, the center said Belfield also took part in the “Berlin airlift”, which dropped food and supplies to the people of West Berlin. He also fought in the Korean War.

Ailing health kept Jay, as he was better known, from making October’s Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to see the war memorials. Instead, Leatherstocking members presented Belfield with an Honor Flight t-shirt in his room at Baptist Health.

When asked what he always wanted to do, Belfield put on his application to the center that he “always wanted to stay in the military.”

He was known to be very proud of his 17 years in the service. His favorite season was spring, and he was an avid gardener.

The center said staffers knew Belfield as always being positive, and ready to give out a salute to everyone – as seen in the photo of him taken by staff. They captured the photo of him saluting on Veterans Day.

The photo of Belfield’s salute has been viewed by millions of people on the NEWS10 ABC Facebook page. His granddaughter Julie Stubbs Tutunjian posted a message on the page.

“Thank you everyone for your kind words,” she wrote. “My grandfather was very proud to have served his country. Our family is sad of his passing, but we know he is with the Lord now. Thank you again, the family of Justus Belfield.”

NEWS10 ABC’s Mark Baker had the pleasure of meeting Belfield on Tuesday, shaking his hand and thanking him for his service.

We all salute you today, Justus.

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