SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Ted Ross was born on May 30, 1918, less than six months before an armistice was signed that brought an end to World War I.
The Surfside Beach resident would enlist to fight in the Second World War and earn a Silver Star for his bravery in the last major battle in Europe.
For his service to his country, Ross was recognized with the key to the city during the Surfside Beach Memorial Day Service. That honor came two days before his 100th birthday.
Ross was a member of the 18th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron. In December 1944, his squad took part in the Battle of the Bulge, a counteroffensive launched by the German army that was intended to cut through the Allied forces "in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Hitler's favor," according to information from the U.S. Army Center of Military History.
It was a harrowing fight that ended with the deaths of thousands of soldiers. Still, General George Patton and the Allies ultimately prevailed, and Hitler was not able to launch such a large-scale offensive again.
Ross, who was a radio repairman, proved vital to his squad's success on Dec. 16, 1944.
He came under heavy enemy fire after volunteering to re-establish and maintain communications within his squadron, which allowed for "coordinated action with the supporting tank platoon," according to a March 20, 1945 letter from Office of the Commanding General of the U.S. Army that stated Ross would receive the Silver Star.
"His gallant and daring deeds were of vital importance to his unit in slowing a strong enemy attack," the letter stated.
After his service in Europe, Ross said he was set to head to the conflict in the Pacific with Japan. As it turns out, the war ended before he was deployed.
"Thank heavens everything settled down and here I am," Ross said.
Here he is, indeed. May 30 is Ross' 100th birthday, but the milestone was marked early with a celebration Tuesday at Malibu's in Surfside Beach.
Ross said he's lived a great life.
"It's a funny world when you think just 20 years ago how different it was, and 30 years ago how different it was," he said.
As for how the official birthday will be celebrated, Ross' daughter, Debbie Sweezy, said it will be a relatively low-key event after two busy days. Family members will take him to the Summer Lights Festival at Brookgreen Gardens.
"He needs a day of rest," Sweezy joked.