World War II veteran 'humbled' after drive-by parade for 98th birthday

  • Bob Piper salutes and his son, Steve, gives a thumbs-up as friends and local veterans groups hold a drive-by parade celebrating Bob's 98th birthday Friday in Naperville. A World War II veteran, Bob Piper served in the U.S. Navy.

      Bob Piper salutes and his son, Steve, gives a thumbs-up as friends and local veterans groups hold a drive-by parade celebrating Bob's 98th birthday Friday in Naperville. A World War II veteran, Bob Piper served in the U.S. Navy. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A friend waves Friday during a drive-by parade celebrating the 98th birthday of Naperville resident and World War II veteran Bob Piper.

      A friend waves Friday during a drive-by parade celebrating the 98th birthday of Naperville resident and World War II veteran Bob Piper. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • "I'm not usually at a lack of words, but I am really kind of speechless," Bob Piper said Friday as a parade of friends and members of veterans groups passed his Naperville home to celebrate his 98th birthday. "It's so shocking, so different, so unexpected."

      "I'm not usually at a lack of words, but I am really kind of speechless," Bob Piper said Friday as a parade of friends and members of veterans groups passed his Naperville home to celebrate his 98th birthday. "It's so shocking, so different, so unexpected." Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville resident and World War II veteran Bob Piper reads birthday messages dropped off at his home Friday during a drive-by parade celebrating the 98-year-old. His son Steve Piper is holding the card.

      Naperville resident and World War II veteran Bob Piper reads birthday messages dropped off at his home Friday during a drive-by parade celebrating the 98-year-old. His son Steve Piper is holding the card. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Wayne Fischer of Naperville, left, stops by to drop off a card for Bob Piper. "We're coffee buddies and I believe in honoring our World War II and other veterans," Fischer said.

      Wayne Fischer of Naperville, left, stops by to drop off a card for Bob Piper. "We're coffee buddies and I believe in honoring our World War II and other veterans," Fischer said. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 11:17 PM

For a man who said he was at a loss for words, Bob Piper still came up with a few.

"Humbled."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Totally surprised."

"Can't believe this."

The Naperville resident and World War II veteran stood with his walker in his driveway Friday afternoon, seemingly shocked at the attention he received as dozens of cars and motorcycles driven by friends and members of area veterans groups held a drive-by parade honoring his 98th birthday.

"I'm not usually at a lack of words, but I am really kind of speechless," Piper said. "It's so shocking, so different, so unexpected."

"Why are these people doing this? They must have better things to do," he said.

The question drew a teasing response from a neighbor: "Just goes to show you there's not a hell of a lot to do right now."

Piper served in the Navy during World War II and worked in communications aboard the USS O'Flaherty in the South Pacific. He is a lifelong Naperville resident. His late wife, Carol, served on the city council and his father, Benjamin, served as the city's mayor from 1923 to 1927.

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Friend Wayne Fischer, a Vietnam vet who works with Naperville American Legion Post 43 and Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, was one of the parade organizers,

"We're coffee buddies, and I believe in honoring our World War II and other veterans," he said. "And he's got the sharpest mind you could ever imagine."

"It's an honor to do it, trust me," Fischer said.

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