John Luckadoo just turned 100 years old, and while he didn’t think he deserved a large party, others around him wanted to honor the modest man dubbed “Lucky” for everything he’s done since World War II.
“I’m in terrific shape. Exceptionally good. “Thank God,” he expressed his gratitude.
Luckadoo, who presently resides in North Dallas, Texas, enlisted in the military at the age of 21.
Before being deployed overseas to participate in the war, he was assigned to a heavy bomber group and got only a few months of training.
“Only four of the 40 men from my flying class who went to the 100th Bomb Group finished a tour,” he told Military Times in 2019. “This indicates how ill-prepared we were and how unlikely we were to survive.”
As a B-17 pilot, he performed 25 combat flights in all. On February 13, 1944, he completed his final mission.
“The plain line is that you’re simply extraordinarily, insanely blessed to live,” he said, “it doesn’t matter how brilliant you are or how successfully you execute your duty.”
He was at Sunday mass with his parents when the pastor approached him and asked him to explain the war when he came home to Tennessee after his tour of service.
“With all due respect, Pastor,” he added, “I believe the reason we served was to spare you from having to experience what we did.”
That was the final time Luckadoo mentioned the conflict. For 50 years, he kept his emotions and feelings pent inside.
“It was a difficult time in my life, and I didn’t want to remember it.” “I’ve tried to forget about it on deliberately,” he explained.
He didn’t talk about his past experiences until lately.
He speaks to children in middle and high schools about what he and other troops went through during the war, and his book “Damn Lucky,” written by war journalist Kevin Maurer, will be out in April.
“I feel compelled to speak about it in order to remind future generations of the sacrifices that were made in order for them to have the freedom they have today,” the 100-year-old added.
On March 16, friends, relatives, and dignitaries came to commemorate his milestone birthday.
While being recognized for his achievements, Luckadoo maintains his push to recognize the home front heroes who also contributed to the war effort.
When asked what has kept him going for so long, Luckadoo said something his wife would always say.
“My wonderful wife, whom I lost five years ago, used to often say to me, ‘Live high, love hard, die young, and leave a beautiful memory.'”