Sam Sachs, WWII veteran celebrated on his 105th birthday, dies at 106

Sam Sachs, a World War II veteran who received thousands of cards after having to cancel his 105th birthday party due to the COVID-19 pandemic, died Monday, according to the town of Lakewood. He died of natural causes, a month before his 107th birthday.

A parade of people helped Sachs celebrate his 105th birthday in April 2020 when they lined the street in his neighborhood in cars, motorcycles and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s vehicles. Some waved American flags as they passed.

That day, miniature flags and streamers decorated the lawn in front of the assisted living facility where Sachs lived. Balloons, red and blue stars and banners with Sachs’ face adorned the front of the house.

Sachs had planned to celebrate the day with a big party, but when it was called off, he recorded a video asking for birthday cards instead.

“I wonder how many birthday cards I’ll get,” he said in the video. “And I’m also asking our president to send me a card as well. What a thrill that would be.

He received more than 6,000 cards from across the United States, Lakewood officials said, along with a letter from President Trump.

Some of the thousands of cards Sam Sachs received for his 105th birthday.

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Sachs lived in Lakewood in his later years and became an active member of the community. He spoke at civic events, such as Memorial Day celebrations.

Sachs joined the army in 1931 and served in posts in California, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana, according to Lakewood’s Veterans History Project. He was an Army paratrooper who landed behind enemy lines as part of the Allied D-Day invasion in 1944, the Veterans Project said.

“I said, ‘I’m Jewish and I’m not going to be taken prisoner,'” Sachs said in a video interview with Lakewood CityTV. “Fortunately, everything went well.”

Sachs, who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, then led troops to liberate prisoners from a Nazi concentration camp.

“I saw the horrors of the concentration camp, which you can’t believe unless you actually see them,” he told Lakewood CityTV. “We would have the Nazis marching through the streets of Lakewood today if it wasn’t for what we did.”

Returning to civilian life, he became a teacher.

Sachs was injured when he was hit by a car last year while walking the block daily. He recovered in a long-term care facility in Bell Gardens before moving into a seniors’ facility in Seal Beach, Lakewood officials said.

Lakewood City Council sent a message of condolence to Sachs’ family, calling him “a representative of what has rightly been called the greatest generation.”

“We thank you for sharing Sam with us during his years at Lakewood. He has honored us with his presence and involvement in our community, and we have been honored and privileged to have the opportunity to thank him in return,” the city council said.

The board said it would adjourn its Tuesday meeting in Sachs’ memory as a final tribute.

Los Angeles Times

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