Purple-Heart veteran celebrates 85th birthday

Published 5:46 pm Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family and friends consider it a miracle that World War II veteran Fred Spradley of Alabaster celebrated his 85th birthday today in the Chandler Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Not only did he survive the battle of Iwo Jima, earning a Purple Heart for his bravery, three weeks ago he survived a gallbladder attack that could have taken his life.

“He’s a walking miracle,” said his daughter Margaret Powell. “He’s an example of the power of prayer.”

Spradley has lived in Shelby County for ten years and said he is looking forward to returning home next week after his therapy at the center. After his attack, he couldn’t sit up by himself, said his wife, Theresa Spradley. At his birthday party on July 22 he showed off to friends how he can now walk by himself and even did a birthday dance.

During his 28 months in the U.S. Marine Corps, Spradley was stationed in San Diego where he trained other soldiers in artillery. Tears flowed down his cheeks while talking about the Battle of Iwo Jima where he sustained an injury from a hand grenade, which is still lodged in his back.

Last year he was able to take a trip with his daughter, Freda York, to Washington D.C. to see the World War II memorial, where he proudly wore a hat that read “I served with pride” along with a picture of his Purple Heart.

Though he suffers from severe arthritis, he said he doesn’t let that keep him from getting work done. Just last year he was still proudly mowing his own grass.

“I don’t know the words ‘quit’ or ‘slow down,’” he said. “I just need to work. I love to work.”

Spradley enjoyed joking and laughing with family and friends who attended his birthday party.

“You’ve heard of people saying they had a good life? Well I’ve had a super life,” Spradley said. “You can tell by all these kids and the places we’ve been. It’s been a super life.”

When he returns home he said he is looking forward to resting and taking a trip with his wife in their motor home. Of the last 85 years, Spradley said with a smile, “It’s been a good trip.”