PHOTOS: Round Rock military veteran celebrates 100th birthday

From left: Robert Sanchez is accompanied by his daughter Frances Dee Sanchez during a surprise parade to celebrate his 100th birthday. (Photos by Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
From left: Robert Sanchez is accompanied by his daughter Frances Dee Sanchez during a surprise parade to celebrate his 100th birthday. (Photos by Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

From left: Robert Sanchez is accompanied by his daughter Frances Dee Sanchez during a surprise parade to celebrate his 100th birthday. (Photos by Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Patriot Guard Riders of Texas, a nonprofit motorcycle-riding group that honors military veterans, sent over 70 riders to participate.
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A neighbor set out balloons to celebrate Sanchez's birthday.
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Neighbors lined the streets as friends and community members drove by waving and wishing Sanchez a happy birthday.
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Some parade participants created their own signs.
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American flags were displayed in honor of Sanchez's decades of military service.
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Dennis Evans (center) organized the event.
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Sanchez turned 100 years old June 7.
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“I think it takes a particular type of person to stay in the military for 30 years,” Sanchez said. “It’s a good thing to do your duty, to serve for a few years and then come home. To make it a career is something else. You have to be dedicated to it.”
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The Cedar Park Police Department presented Sanchez with a flag flown in his honor.
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Evans and other veterans in attendance were invited to sign a Williamson County Sheriff's SUV dedicated to honoring individuals who have served in the U.S. military.
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The gathered crowd displayed posters, American flags, banners, balloons and more.
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Carter told Sanchez that veterans who fought in World War II have been his heroes since a young age.
Robert Sanchez stood in the front lawn of his Round Rock home on the morning of June 7. Wearing sunglasses, a blue-and-white pinstriped shirt and a flight cap, he raised his right hand to his mouth in a gesture of surprise.

“Oh my God,” he said, his voice barely audible above a growing rumble. “All this for me?”

Motorcycles, Corvettes, fire trucks, police SUVs and dozens of decorated cars lined the block. Displaying American flags and homemade posters, a swell of parade participants had gathered to celebrate Sanchez’s 100th birthday.

A veteran of the United States military, Sanchez flew planes during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He served a 30-year career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force, ultimately earning the rank of chief master sergeant in the Air Force.

Sanchez received numerous accolades throughout his military career, including four Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross, both of which are given for heroism in flight.


In 2019, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, the French Consul General Alexis Andres presented Sanchez with the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction for military or civilian efforts.

Nearly a year to the day, Andres surprised Sanchez by participating in his birthday parade.

“When I received the invitation from the family to celebrate Robert’s birthday, I said, ‘yes’ immediately,” Andres said. He presented Sanchez with a bottle of champagne and lead the crowd in a round of “Happy Birthday” in French.

Also in attendance was U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, of Texas’ 31st Congressional District, which includes Williamson and Bell counties.

“It is an honor to celebrate your birthday,” Carter said as he shook Sanchez’s hand. “Thank you for your service. You are a great American.”

Carter shared a personal anecdote about his respect for WWII veterans, instilled in him from a young age.

“I was born one month before the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” Carter said. “So, as a little kid, growing up, there were no bigger heroes to me than the veterans who came back.”

Representatives from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Round Rock, Georgetown, and Cedar Park police and fire departments participated in the parade. Officers presented Sanchez with certificates, flags flown in his honor and other tokens of appreciation. The Patriot Guard Riders of Texas, a nonprofit that honors military veterans, sent over 70 motorcyclists to participate.

As the parade concluded, a Georgetown firefighter leaned out of the truck while it slowed to a stop in front of Sanchez.

“Thank you for everything, sir,” the firefighter said with a salute.

Sanchez pressed one hand into his cane and the other to his forehead as he saluted in return.
By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


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