Minnesota WWII veteran celebrates 100th birthday

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George Vandersluis says he's as surprised as anyone he's lived to be 100 years old.

He smoked, drank and even fought as a boxer, but now he's celebrating the century mark.

"Great. A little tired but good, " Vandersluis said of turning 100 on Thursday.

Vandersluis grew up in northeast Minneapolis before joining the United States Marines in 1940. During his six years in the service, Vandersluis survived not one, but two of World War II's bloodiest battles: Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima.

His daughter-in-law, Roxanne, says Vandersluis has talked about his experience on the USS Honolulu in Pearl Harbor more in recent years.

"It is emotional. He was in the middle of it. He said they didn't want them shooting back they didn't believe it was happening," Roxanne said.

After the war, Vandersluis settled in California, where he ran a tire shop, married and raised a family.

His entire family flew to Minnesota to celebrate his major milestone, with steak and a beer on Saturday, as well as his favorite sliders from White Castle at the Minnesota Veterans Home earlier this week.

Vandersluis says his secret to a living a long life is having a few Budweisers, as well as a good sense of humor.

Longevity seems to be in the Vandersluis genes. George's sister died last year at the age of 101.