WWII vet, retired firefighter celebrates 100 years

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Reaching the age of 100 is an amazing accomplishment no matter what, but what John Sinke did with those years sets him apart.

On Monday, dozens of people gathered at Wyoming’s Senior Center to celebrate Sinke’s 100th birthday.

“If we needed somebody to depend on, there was dad — always, always in our life,” said Pat Welch, one of Sinke’s three surviving children.

If you want a glimpse into the good someone can accomplish when blessed with a century on Earth, you need only look at the picture board and yearbooks that were set up at Sinke’s party. They chronicle the efforts of a seemingly ordinary man dosing extraordinary things.

During World War II, he was part of a tank unit that landed at Normandy in the days following D-Day. It was no walk on the beach.

john sinke
A file courtesy photo of John Sinke in uniform.

“We heard a lot about everybody getting wiped out. … We were just hoping we could make it,” Sinke recalled.

After the war, it was back to Grand Rapids. Sinke got a factory job. The pay was good and no one was shooting at him.

But then someone told him the fire department was hiring. So began an nearly 30-year career as a Grand Rapids firefighter.

“We were the busiest station,” Sinke recalled. “I like the fire department. I liked what I was doing.”

While all of that may sound extraordinary, like so many others of Sinke’s generation, to him, it was no big deal.

“He loved doing all of it,” daughter Pat Welch said. “He feels honored to have been a part of it.”

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