Jacob R. McClenny’s family and friends gathered recently to celebrate the 100th birthday of the World War II veteran.

The gathering was held at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro. The Murfreesboro man’s birthday was on Tuesday, Oct. 6. McClenny has been inducted into the Century Club of Rutherford County.

McClenny died Monday, according to an obituary sent to The Murfreesboro Post. Visitation will be at noon on Thursday, Oct. 22 until the funeral service at 2 p.m. at Woodfin Memorial Chapel in Murfreesboro. Joe Elliott will officiate. Burial will follow in Evergreen Cemetery.

When McClenny joined the Army Air Corps, he was 22 years old. In his younger years, he flew a crop duster in Texas so he already had some aviation lessons when it came to learning how to fly a B-17 bomber.

He served in the military for 22 years, flying 23 wartime missions over Germany in his B-17, nicknamed “Little Chapel,” and never lost a man. His crew considered that name lucky.

Since 2012, the Century Club has honored those citizens who are 100 years of age or older. McClenny (who retired as a Lt. Col.) became a member of the Century Club with more decorations and awards than any of its other 75 members have received to date, club liaison Kathy Bennett said.

The celebration of McClenny’s 100th birthday began with a virtual presentation from Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, U.S. Army (Ret.) who is senior advisor for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives at Middle Tennessee State University. Huber also spoke with the birthday honoree, expressing thanks for his U.S. Air Force service and referred to his excellent military record with B-17 missions.

“Both soldiers remembered each other from previous events. It was a very touching moment,” Bennett said.

According to an MTSU news release, the event was limited to about 30 family and guests wearing masks and adhering to social distancing, Bennett said. McClenny ate dinner at a table by himself as a precaution.

Huber and Dr. Hilary Miller, director of the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, gave a framed award to McClenny for his service to the nation, for his defense of democracy and his protection of freedom. McClenny was also presented a Quilt of Valor.

MTSU said in a press release that Jill Shaver of Murfreesboro made the Quilt of Valor to honor and comfort those touched by war.

Additional centenarian awards and certificates were provided from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland and The Century Club of Rutherford County. Peter Warner presented the “Challenge Coin” with the Stones River Chapter of Military Officers Association of America.

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