96-Year-Old World War II Veteran Runs New York Marathon

The WWII veteran, Jonathan Mendes, flew dive-bombers for the Marine Corps in World War II, and jet fighter attack planes in Korea.

Jonathan Mendes participated in the New York Marathon and spent 11 hours and 20 minutes of running.  The 96-year-old veteran of World War II and the Korean War went the distance, 26.19 miles, of the race that runs through all five boroughs of the city.

A bomber pilot in the Marines, Mendes flew over 100 missions in World War II and 70 more in the Korean War.  He trained John Glenn and Ted Williams and graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.  He lives in a spacious apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  He walks two miles around the reservoir in Central Park every day at 7:30 am and has a scotch every day at 4 pm.

“You have to have goals in life,” he says. “They don’t have to be important.  But at this stage I’ve done it all.  I’ve skied all over the world.  I’ve canoed the great rivers of the world.  I flew dive-bombers for the Marine Corps in World War II, and jet fighter attack planes in Korea.  And I never got hurt, so I don’t have any bad memories.”

He walked a 25-minute mile pace in a US Marine Corps ball cap and a 16-year-old Asics windbreaker. He used two support guides to help him keep his balance.

On top of the final hill on West Drive, he stopped and peered ahead.  There are just three people in the grandstand.  Another dozen or so are gathered in a group just past the finish line. None of them see him coming.

One of his guides is Tom Mangan, his personal trainer.  Mangan has worked with Mendes on bodyweight exercises and stretches.   After consulting with a doctor, Mangan cleared Mendes to participate in the race, Runner’s World reported.