BY JEFF REDMON/BREAKTHROUGH IMPACT GROUP
Do you consider yourself “lucky”?
John Luckadoo was born with a fortuitous name, nicknamed Lucky, he truly was and acknowledged his luck many times. At 100 this year, Luckadoo sat down with Kevin Maurer, after 70 plus years, and told his previously untold story as a B-17 pilot in World War II. Like so many men and women who see the horrors of war firsthand, it is not a story they tell. These are not memories they care to recall. Luckadoo is brutally honest about himself, his crew, his commanders, and the circumstances. Luckadoo does not brag about his story nor make himself out to be a hero. Maurer shares the story in a masterful way and captures how fate shined on Luckadoo on several occasions.
On one B-177 bombing mission over Germany, 21 B-17s took off and only 6 returned. Luckadoo’s B-17 barely made it home that mission. He kissed the ground upon his return. B-17s and their sister ship the B-24 were huge planes built to deliver bombs, not creature comforts. More crew suffered injuries from frostbite than from the enemy. Luckadoo flew 25 missions, the then minimum needed to go home. The average unfortunately was 8-10. Many of the B-17 crew members never made it home.
Maurer captures the good, the bad, and sometimes ugly aspects of being a B-17 pilot. It is a story that needed to be told. We should listen to the experiences of these American heroes. Unfortunately, too many of these stories have been lost with time.