Two World War II veterans in Chicago's northern suburbs celebrated their 100th birthdays a little early Friday.
99-year-olds Jacob Joseph and Nathan Firestone joined the armed forces during WWII, not knowing if they would make it home alive.
Nathan was a B-24 navigator and completed 27 missions.
"We got shot down and I spent nine days in the Alps before I got captured, and then I spent almost six months in prison camp," Nathan said.
Nathan said he looked his Nazi captors in the face and told them, "I am a Jew." He escaped months later.
Jacob Joseph served as an Army Staff Sergeant. Jacob Joseph's son said his father stormed the beaches of Normandy during the second wave on D-Day. His job was to pick up dog tags as he raced to safety.
"I remember a lot of my friends got killed and everything else. We couldn't help them, we had to keep it going, otherwise we'd get the same thing," Jacob Joseph said.
Today, Jacob Joseph crafts models from pill bottles to keep busy.
Congressman Brad Schneider joined other veterans and the Firestones' family as they wished the two men a happy early birthday.
Schneider said he also wanted to send a message to younger generations.
"If we come together, we join forces and we stand strong, it'll be an outcome that we can appreciate and be proud of," Schneider said.
Scheider also said both veterans' stories will be added to the Congressional Record.
Chicago Proud: WWII veterans celebrate 100th birthday