ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A special surprise was held for a World War II veteran who turned 91 years old on Friday.
Every Friday morning, veterans meet at the Gateway Diner in Albany. It’s set up by the Veterans Miracle Center, and vets from various wars get together to exchange stories and become friends.
However, it was a special one for one Friday morning regular. It was his 91st birthday.
Robert “Gus” Gusberti was serenaded by the Capitaland Chorus and was given a hat featuring his ship, the USS Lamson.
“It was hit by a kamikaze on December 7, 1944,” he said. “Two years after Pearl Harbor.”
He survived by jumping overboard.
Gusberti was a signalman and managed to find a raft. He was picked up later but was badly burned.
“We lost quite a few fellas and a lot wounded,” he said. “I was in the hospital for about a year.”
He endured skin grafts to his arm, and his back and shoulder were also burned. His ship was towed back to Pearl Harbor then Bremerton and rebuilt.
“By the time it got to Bremerton, they already had all the information they needed, and they had a whole superstructure already built,” Gusberti said. “Those were some days.”
When he got out of the hospital, Gusberti entered an apprentice program, went to school, and then designed guns for the Watervliet Arsenal for 30 years.
As for his birthday surprise, Veterans Miracle Center Director of Operations Melody Burns said the organization wanted to bring some joy to his life.
“You know, he lost his wife back in December of last year, and we just wanted to make his birthday a little bit special,” she said.
Other WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans joined the party.