NewsInspiring South Florida


Delray Beach community honors WWII veteran and centenarian

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 17:27:34-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Flashing lights, and Harley-Davidson bikes were all part of the fanfare this past weekend for a Delray Beach World War II veteran with a rare claim to fame.

Chairperson of the King David Bikers of South Florida, Jay Mendelker, said, "I hope that Louie will remember this for the rest of his days and at 101.5 we say days not months or years."

Delray Beach Police and Fire Departments, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and King David Bikers of South Florida were all part of the surprise for the man of the hour, Lou Okstein, who thought he was just going out for breakfast.

Mendleker explained, "We’ve decided to get together to honor Louie today to bring him some cheer."

The procession that followed was a mitzvah fit for a man with enough chutzpah to last more than one hundred years.

“WWII at Pearl Harbor I did diesel engine submarine work with the Navy,” said Okstein.

Three years in the U.S. Navy preceded a one year stint in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in Tokyo.

While time has ticked away, Okstein’s memories are still sharp and emotions raw.

Okstein recalled, "We were trained by the Army that when you get to Japan I want none of you guys walking down the street and pushing the Japanese guy into the street. You behave yourself - these are decent people. They lost the war. They were honorable, treat them with decency."

Neighbors and friends said Okstein has outlived most, if not all of his close family.

With the losses, the community support means everything. The King David Bikers of South Florida made Okstein an honorary member ensuring his sacrifice as a service member will be honored. More frail than he was in his prime, Ockstein was quick to set the record straight.

“I’m shaky as hell and tough too,” said Okstein proudly.

He's part of the greatest generation, built tough.