HAMILTON, NJ -- Frank Uveges has seen a lot in his life, from the front lines of World War II to a career in union construction, to big changes in his hometown of Hamilton Township. With his 100th birthday coming, he planned on celebrating with friends and family. Then, the spread of the coronavirus forced the party to be canceled.
At 100-years-young, Frank still lives in the same home he has since 1940 and can often be seen driving through his community. While his younger brother Jim, 86, still visits him daily, travel bans, the new norm of social distancing, and bans and group gatherings are keeping his son and other families members from flying in for the birthday celebration.
That's why his fellow veterans at Hamilton's VFW Post 3525 came up with the idea to celebrate with a "Drive-By Birthday Parade" to honor Frank.
Second vice commander Jeff Bock said that Frank is like a grandfather to everyone at the VFW and has a "better handshake than all of us put together."
"I have never met a man more inspiring than Frank," said Bock. "He never once has anything to say about anyone always has a light and airy disposition. Frank always inquires about everyone's family and how they're doing."
On Monday, Frank's 100th birthday, VFW members are asking area residents, neighbors, and others to join in wishing him well by driving his home at 254 Elmore Avenue in Hamilton Township during the daytime hours. Well-wishers are encouraged to sing Happy Birthday, say hello with a sign, wave or share a birthday greeting from their vehicles or walking by Frank's home. Anyone participating in the "Drive-by Birthday Parade" should maintain social distancing guidelines by staying in their vehicles or on the side walks to keep Frank and others healthy!
Uveges, the son of Hungarian immigrants, joined the Unites States Army in 1943 without hesitation during World War II where he served in southern France, the German Rhineland, and the Ardennes in Belgium.
He earned a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and three Battle Stars during his time military career for acts of bravery. According to the VFW, the Bronze Star was awarded for his actions when his company came under heavy enemy attack from mortar and artillery fire on October 8, 1944 and one the lead elements of Company F was seriously wounded leaving him unable to crawl back to his lines. The soldiers knew that without medical help he would die from his wounds or be killed by the Germans. Without concern for himself, Frank volunteered to crawl out with a medic while under heavy enemy fire to bring the wounded soldier back which contributed to the prompt evacuation and medical treatment of the wounded soldier.
Using the skills he learned in labor union construction trades, Uveges likes to share stories with fellow members of the VFW about parts of the Post that he helped build over the years.
Bock said that Frankie has one more goal now that he has turned 100 -- to shake the President's hand. The statewide VFW is working to make that a reality to honor one of America's Greatest Generation's heroes.
Those who would like to join in wishing Frank well, also can send birthday cards to the VFW Post 3525 located at 77 Christine Avenue, Hamilton, NJ 08619. The Post members will be sure to get them to him.
In addition to being a lifetime member of VFW Post 3525, Frank is a member of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, the Hamilton Knights of Columbus #6213 as a 4th Degree Knight, Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Catholic War Veterans, and the American Legion.
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