MADISON TOWNSHIP — Emil Bias waved at the parade of vehicles passing his driveway on Saturday afternoon as a portion of the community rolled by to celebrate the World War II veteran's 92nd birthday.
Rodney Bias, Emil's son, reached out to the Madison Township Police and the Madison Fire Department to see if they would be willing to drive by and honor the veteran's birthday.
They agreed and gathered with a large contingent of antique, and other cars, from Car Shows and Cruise-ins Facebook page at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Lake Road in Madison Township.
The group has been conducting a variety of events to honor nursing home residents and others stuck at home due to the coronavirus.
Max Sprague, coordinator of the Facebook page, heard about the plans and decided the event needed a car component with more people involved but socially distancing within their cars. He said there needed to be a bigger response for a World War II veteran.
The Navy radio man was stationed on the Harold W. Gilmore as a submarine tender for three years. He said he spent a year in Puerto Rico. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1944 as an 18-year-old as the war winded down, according to family members.
The ships were stationed at various spots throughout the world to service submarines as necessary. Refueling, food supply coordination, minor repairs and a variety of other tasks were performed by the crew, according to a Naval history of World War II.
Donna Carraher, Emil's daughter, said he was not aware of the full details of the drive-by birthday party. After the cars, fire and police vehicles and organizers gathered they left heading west on Lake Road from a Veterans of Foreign Wars post, headed south on Dock Road and then to Cumberland to his property.
He was accompanied by his wife Reva, and several children and grandchildren with many other relatives participating in the drive-by portion of the event.
John Leonard, Emil Bias's grandson, said he was excited to be a part of the event and was happy with the turnout.
"I think it's really cool, especially on such short notice," he said.
"He didn't expecte anything like this," Reva Bias said.
As cars drove by after the event there was still a lot of celebration of the career of a military man who served in World War II.
"Happy birthday. Thank you for your service," a motorist yelled from his moving vehicle.