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World War II Marine Vet Celebrates Marathon Finish With Shot Of Scotch

November 08, 2016

A United States World War II Marine veteran finished the New York City Marathon over the weekend and celebrated with a shot of scotch.

Jonathan Mendes, 96, finished the race in 11 hours and 20 minutes, making him one of the oldest people to finish the New York City Marathon.

This, however isn’t Mendes’ first time finishing the race. He has run in the race for 16 years and has a total of 11 official finishes. This year, he was not able to get an official result since the clock that tracked runners times had stopped roughly 45 minutes before he finished.

With 20 meters left in the race,  Peter Ciaccia, the marathon’s race director, jogs out and puts an arm around Mendes to help him cross the finish line.

“Semper fi,” Ciaccia says.

“Do or die,” Mendes replies back.

After the race, Mendes lies down and when asked if he would like something to drink, he replies and says that he wants scotch.

Mendes’ personal trainer, Tom Mangan, who works with Mendes twice a week for exercise, takes out a small paper bag and pulls out three small bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch.

“I’ve been saying for years that the key to living this long is a shot of whisky a day and a good woman, in that order,” Mendes says.

“Jon is an exceptional man,” Mangan told Runners World. “We have been laughing all day.”

While in the Marines, Mendes was a bomber pilot that flew more than 100 missions in World War II and more than 70 missions during the Korean War. He said that he trained John Glenn as well as Ted Williams.

Mendes said looking back on life, he has achieved many of his goals.

“You have to have goals in life,” he said. “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.”