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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii has a new member in the centenarian club.

James Peck, celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday. While that is an incredible feat itself, his life story is equally amazing.

Born in a Los Angeles suburb in 1924, Peck lived through the great depression with his family.

His family says when he came of age, he joined the Navy, working his way up over the years to become a naval officer. He fought alongside his shipmates in WWII, witnessing the destruction of war first hand.

As the years progressed and he left the Navy, his family says he went on to study engineering and worked with the space program and Apollo missions.

When he and his wife moved to Maui, they bought a home in Lahaina some 30 years ago, and he worked for the County, developing modern computer systems for the planning department.

While he slowly developed his own medical conditions that required increased care in his later years, one of the biggest challenges laid ahead: The Aug. 8 wildfires that destroyed Lahaina.

His family said in an email, “…though he was 99 years old, under hospice care, this man was able to gather the strength to walk down a flight of stairs with assistance to a waiting vehicle and escape the wildfires of Lahaina that were only a block away at the time.”

His home was among the hundreds destroyed.

A week after the fire, family members say he moved to Hawaii Island to be with his oldest daughter in Puako.

Months have since passed since the tragedy, and while he is still heartbroken over it, he was thankful to have survived the fire and lived to see his 100th birthday.

His family held a small party on Sunday to mark the milestone. In attendance was Aaron Kamaunu, who is credited with saving his life the day of the fires.

Loved ones added that Peck lives with a sense of gratitude for all of life’s experiences, both good and bad.

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