Here's to his second century: WWII veteran celebrates 101st birthday with workout

World War II veteran Joe Rosa celebrates his 101st birthday, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, at 24 Hour Fitness Summerlin in Las Vegas. (KSNV/Kyndell Nunley)

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) - Every day for the past five years, Joe Rosa has begun his day with a workout at a local fitness center.

On Friday – his 101st birthday – nothing had changed.

The staff at 24 Hour Fitness Summerlin welcomed Rosa, a World War II veteran, with two cakes and dozens of balloons.

The workouts began when Rosa was at perhaps his lowest. He was struck by a car in his mid-90s. The collision broke his back and crushed one of his legs. He could only get around via wheelchair.

"I couldn't move. I couldn't raise my legs. I couldn't raise my hands," Rosa said. “I went to the doctor and the doctor said he didn't think I'd be able to walk anymore. That's when I met Aaron Clay."

Clay was Rosa's trainer for three years, helping him regain strength in his legs.

“As much as he says I've helped him, he's helped me," Clay said. "He's family now."

Clay no longer works as a trainer, but the two still keep in regular contact. Rosa has also continued on the workouts Clay taught him. He works out two hours a day, every day.

"The difficult I do easy,” Rosa said. “The impossible just takes me a little bit of time. That's always been my theory."

Overcoming difficulty is something Rosa says he has done his entire life. He served as a Merchant's Marine, a branch of the Navy, on the cargo ship USS Serpens.

During World War II, Rosa served in missions from Asia to Europe. His crew was a part of the World War II Bougainville Campaign, and after his third year in the service he earned a promotion to chief. He said the move is a milestone to be proud of, while also marking it as one that most likely saved his life. As chief, he was moved to another ship. Two months later, the USS Serpens exploded, killing 249 servicemen on board.

Rosa, who owned a roofing company in Los Angeles for 50 years before relocating to Las Vegas, has some advice for reaching and passing the century mark.

"My secret is, I think, get out of bed in the morning and do something. Don't lay around ... drinking good wine, eating good food."

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