Veteran Celebrates 100th Birthday

Dunn’s Kermit Turner – pictured then and now – is a World War II veteran with 100 years worth of stories… and birthdays.

Saw historic battles in World War II

A Dunn-area man and his family are now celebrating a century of life after he turned 100 years old earlier this week.

Kermit Turner, who lives between Coats and Dunn, turned 100 April 22. He will celebrate with people at his church next weekend. Turner lives an active life on the land his family has lived on and farmed for generations.

He is now preparing for his annual ritual of planting peppers and tomatoes outside with the assistance of his golf cart. Squash and watermelon seeds will be in the garden soon.

The centenarian was still mowing his own lawn as of last year, but the verdict is out on whether he will take the seat on his tractor this growing season.

Turner continues regular attendance at Prospect Free Will Baptist Church and spends time with his wife Bertha who he married 77 years ago. According to family members, Turner married the “girl next door.” The pair lived on adjoining farms and knew each other most of their lives.

“I took care of him, that is why he has able (to) live so long,” Bertha Turner said.

Kermit Turner agrees and spills another secret to his longevity.

“I lived this long because I love the Lord,” he said.

Turner spent much of his life in service to his country, leaving home to serve in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He was sworn into active duty on Christmas Eve, 1936, following a family tradition of military service. His father was one of the last remaining survivors of the Spanish-American War.

Kermit Turner’s enlistment quickly put him onboard Navy ships, including the amphibious attack ship the Dorothea L. Dix, the U.S.S. Henderson, the U.S.S. North Hampton and others.

He was stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Va., when Japanese planes launched the United States into World War II by bombing Pearl Harbor. He understands the blessing of missing the battle which took the lives of thousands of his counterparts in the Navy.

“I have been to Pearl Harbor but I wasn’t there when it was attacked,” Turner said.

But he did find himself at what may well be the most historic invasions in world history. He served on a ship that transported thousands of troops to the beaches of Normandy as allied forces liberated France from Nazi oppression. His ship sent numerous U.S. Army landing crafts to Omaha Beach for the D-Day attack.

Turner served around the world during his Navy career which included a stint in the Pacific where the allies defeated Japan. He then served in assorted roles in the field of Naval aviation which he calls one of his favorite areas of service, but his career didn’t end there. He was a hurricane hunter after the war and also delivered propellers for ice-breaking ships in New Zealand before his retirement.

Following his time in the military Turner was trained as an electrician at Fayetteville Technical Community College. He then worked for the State of North Carolina in Raleigh.

Turner’s family continues to be a major part of his life. He has a total of three children, six grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and six great, great grandchildren.

“They are going to start calling me Moses if I keep populating the world,” Turner said.

He is the last of his siblings still alive.

Turning 100 brought a unique surprise to Turner. Through various social media and email, people from around the world heard about his birthday. That brought cards from far away places including from the Netherlands, South Africa and Australia.

-Dunn Daily Record