100-Year-Old Vet: I Told Biden Age Is Just a Number—Now I Have Doubts

Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The 100 year-old veteran who told President Biden that “age is just a number” at last month’s D-Day commemoration in France has told The Daily Beast that he was just trying to say something pleasing.

“You’re right!” Biden replied.

But Hilbert “Hibby” Margol now adds that he did not complete the sentence.

“The rest of the sentence is, ‘Age is just a number, but what matters is mental acuity,’” Margol said on Wednesday.

Margol says he takes this view in part because of a response he repeatedly received when interviewed in recent days as a former PFC who served in Battery B, 392nd Field Artillery Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division, alongside his twin brother, Howard. The unit helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. He says reporters again and again told him how sharp he remains at 100.

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“So to me that’s what counts,” he said.

But his view is also based on the inexorable decline of his wife of more than seven decades, 95-year-old Betty Ann, who suffers from dementia. He says he has come to believe that Biden is in an early stage of the same condition.

“So I recognize the symptoms,” he said.

Margol says he discerned one sign at the ceremony as Biden presented him with a presidential medallion.

“We were seven to eight inches [apart], his face to my face,” Hillby recalls. “I got a good look at him, especially his eyes. And for a few seconds I thought maybe he wasn’t sure where he was.”

And then there was the debate. Hilby watched from his Dunwoody, Georgia, home as Biden seemed completely lost during an early moment, but at least close to fine at others. Hilby subsequently noted various news reports of Biden vacillating between being sharp and unfocused. He sees similar shifts in his wife, with a general decline over time.

“It doesn’t improve,” he said. “It only gets worse.”

Hilby says that his wife can seem completely fine while talking on the phone to people in the family, but if asked after hanging up the phone what they talked about, “She can’t tell you,” Margol said.

He describes himself as a moderate conservative, but emphasized he was speaking as the husband of someone with dementia when offered a layman’s view of Biden’s fitness for office.

“There’s no way this man can serve another four years,” Magol said, “I mean, physically, mentally, I can’t imagine him being able to be president of the United States.”

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