BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A World War II veteran and long time Bella Vista resident got a special birthday party to celebrate 97 years.

Joe Skourup, a Purple Heart veteran, was surrounded by friends and family as he welcomed his 97th year.

He says he’s been lucky to live a great life.

“I’ve lived a wonderful life though, I was born in the USA. That was important,” Joe said. “My parents were both loving and I was fortunate enough to have a big brother, and I met the girl that I needed to meet.

Joe’s son, Dan Skourup, who attended the birthday, says he appreciates all of the love given to his father. “It’s heartwarming that people care about my father. He’s my hero and he’s probably some of these other people’s heroes too,” Dan said.

Joe says he served with the National Guard in the Lucian Islands during World War II and would love to re-connect with anyone who might have served alongside him.