PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A World War II Navy veteran living in Phoenix celebrated his 100th birthday Monday.

Melvin Dussia technically turned 100 on Sunday, but Monday, his neighbors at St. Mary’s Manor in Phoenix threw him a special party, complete with party hat for the guest of honor and, of course, cake.

[WATCH: "Laugh and be happy" 100-year-old WWII vet says]

“Hard to believe he’s 100 years old,” said Jane Turner, one of Dussia’s neighbors.

Dussia says that until a few weeks ago, he was still driving and flying model airplanes. He’s also been an avid golfer into old age.

“He’s a really nice guy. He seems friendly to everyone,” said Mary Watkins, another neighbor.

Dussia was a pilot in World War II, training other pilots in the Pacific theater on instrument usage. He went to several outposts to train pilots, including Hawaii and Bora Bora.

“We were under fire several times,” Dussia recalled. “You’re afraid a little bit then, yeah.”

Dussia now wears hearing headphones because of all the flying he did in his younger days.

“The noise of the plane got to me!” he said.

Still, Dussia says he’s in good shape. He says the secret to a long life is to stay relaxed and to eat healthfully.

“You don’t have control over anything that happens in the world,” Dussia said. “You might as well laugh and be happy.”

 


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