CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. — A Citrus Heights veteran celebrated a big milestone this weekend: his 100th birthday.
Francis Bufkin served in the Air Force for 20 years. Part of that time, he was a left gunner on a B-17 bomber during World War II. His daughter, Baisley Mary, said he survived as a prisoner of war for 13 months until the war ended.
"Been a long road to get to 100, and I think he deserves some recognition for that," Mary said.
Bufkin prefers to go by his nickname, Buff. He officially turns 100 on Monday, but his friends and family gathered together for a neighborhood celebration Sunday to mark the occasion. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Citrus Heights Police Department came to the gathering to send him well wishes.
Buff was raised on a farm in Mississippi and enlisted at the age of 17.
He later moved to California, where his wife is from, and became a letter carrier in Fair Oaks, which his daughter credits his longevity to.
"He had the only walking route down there, so he's done a lot of walking and I think that's one of the reasons why he made it to 100," she said.
Reaching one century on this earth, Buff has seen a lot.
"Well, there's been some good years and bad years, I'll tell you that," he said.
This birthday is that much more important to family and friends. His daughter said her father's health has started to decline in the last year.
"He's still hanging in there. He's got a strong will," Mary said. "Loyal, very dedicated, very honorable, I got a lot of who I am from that kind of attitude."