Today, John “Lucky” Luckadoo is the last surviving member of the 100th Bomb Group from World War II. Most of the bomber crews of the 100th only survived 5 missions, earning the group the unenviable nickname “The Bloody Hundredth”. It not until 50 years after the end of the war that John began to talk about his time at war because “those were not the happiest days of our lives and recalling them was not a happy experience.”
Lucky relates that bestselling author Kevin Maurer called him “out of the blue” and said he had heard some of his stories and wanted to read his book. John replied “Well, I don’t have a book’ and that began a collaboration that resulted in “Damn Lucky; One Man’s Courage during the Bloodiest Campaign in Aviation History.
Lucky and his high school friend Sully both wanted to fly and tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Sully got permission but Lucky had to wait until the US entered the war. Later in the war Lucky flew to a nearby base to visit Sully and saw a crashed aircraft. Tragically, that had been Sully’s plane.
Kevin does an excellent job of translating Lucky’s war experiences including the Bremen mission when German pilots crashed their planes directly into the bombers. Of the 18 aircraft that began that mission, only six returned to base.
Kevin has written books that span from the Second World War to the present day. He says there are some universal truths regardless of the generation. Most soldiers are fighting for the person next to them and leave the politics for home. He says one shouldn’t give the military a mission unless you are sure of what you want them to achieve because they will sacrifice their lives trying to accomplish that mission.
TAKEAWAY: Lucky says he was fortunate to have an author sufficiently talented to put the reader in the cockpit.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 43:05 — 7.4MB)