100-Year-Old John “Lucky” Luckadoo, plus Researching Veterans Service Records on Greatest Generation Live
We welcome former B-17 pilot John “Lucky” Luckadoo to Greatest Generation Live to share stories from his 25 missions over France and Germany in 1943 with the 100th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, stationed in Thorpe Abbotts, England. Also joining us will be Bestselling author Kevin Maurer, who captured Luckadoo’s story in Damn Lucky: One Man’s Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History.
With a shrapnel torn Bible in his flight jacket pocket and his girlfriend’s silk stocking around his neck like a scarf as talismans, Luckadoo piloted through Luftwaffe machine-gun fire and antiaircraft flak while enduring subzero temperatures to complete twenty-five missions and his combat service. The average bomber crew rarely survived after eight to twelve missions. Knowing far too many airmen who wouldn’t be returning home, Luckadoo closed off his emotions and focused on his tasks to finish his tour of duty one moment at a time, realizing his success was more about being lucky than being skilled. “We were young citizen-soldiers, terribly naive and gullible about what we would be confronted with in the air war over Europe and the profound effect it would have upon every fiber of our being for the rest of our lives. We were all afraid, but it was beyond our power to quit. We volunteered for the service and, once trained and overseas, felt we had no choice but to fulfill the mission assigned. My hope is that this book honors the men with whom I served by telling the truth about what it took to climb into the cold blue and fight for our lives over and over again.”
Drawn from Luckadoo’s firsthand accounts, acclaimed war correspondent Kevin Maurer shares his extraordinary tale from war to peacetime, uncovering astonishing feats of bravery during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history, and presenting an incredible portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age during the world’s most devastating war.This is the forgotten story of the American World War II dead. Told from personal family letters, official documents, contemporary magazine and newspaper articles, historical research, and previously unpublished photographs, this is the first book to fully describe the return of the valiant dead to America after World War II, in tribute to those who gave their lives, as well as to those who mercifully brought them home.
For the second part of our program, we welcome renowned researcher of veterans’ service records Bill Beigel. Bill is author of Buried on the Battlefield: The Return of the Dead from World War II. Few people know that the United States was the only nation to bring home our war dead after World War II. The bodies of America’s fallen were removed from foreign graves across the globe, often years after they died. More than 280,000 were recovered, leaving that number of American families with an agonizing choice: return their beloved sons to the homeland, or let them rest in military cemeteries overseas in the countries they died to liberate.
Some of our allies were strongly against the idea, fearing their citizens’ reactions to not being able to bring home their own sons. But it was done because American families demanded it: not as a collective, organized effort, but one family – one father, mother, widow, or sibling – at a time.
Bill is also the nation’s leading service record consultant. In you have a family member who served in World War II and are looking for help researching their service, Bill Beigel is the man you want. Bill is the nation’s foremost researcher specializing in US military service histories of veterans and casualties of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. His research provides answers about WWII military service and wartime deaths, as next-of-kin received very little information during wartime. Beigel has researched thousands of US veterans and casualties for clients in the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Bill will talk about his work and offers some how-to’s for researching family members. Sponsored by D&D Auto Salvage and Tobacco Free Adagio Health. Simulcast to Facebook and YouTube.