RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The sound of horns filled the streets of the Springdale Estates in North Raleigh as friends, family, and others passing by--including several Raleigh fire trucks--wished Retired Air Force Col. Durwood Williams a happy 100th birthday.
Williams was a World War II fighter pilot who first joined the Army days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He later moved to the Air Force serving as a cadet, pilot, engineering officer, research and development officer, and system program manager.
"I am proud of the service I gave in the war," Williams said. "I'm equally proud of my contribution to the nation as a military research and development officer. I think one of the greatest contributions I made was as the system engineer for the ballistic missile early warning system. I helped design and install those three sites. They gave credence to our national policy, mutually assured destruction. It offered headquarters 15 minutes to get the B47 and B52 fleet airborne for any missile impact."
Williams said his military service is part of what he is most proud of looking back on his 100 years. He said the secret to his long life is all about knowing yourself.
"I think you should know yourself," Williams said. "You should have good wise parents that teach you well and live according to your belief system. You be yourself all the days of your life and you will be blessed with a good long life."
"I'm also blessed with good genes," he joked. Williams has written a book, A Path Well Traveled: Through War and Peace. He is currently working on a second book about the rise and fall of democratic republics as he celebrates his 100th birthday.