Jack Koser, a WWII veteran pilot, recently celebrated a milestone birthday surrounded by his loved ones in Bradenton, Florida.
Jack Koser, a WWII veteran pilot, recently celebrated a milestone birthday surrounded by his loved ones in Bradenton, Florida reports Fox10. Koser's service medals that adorn his bedroom wall tell a unique story. Despite suffering a stroke years ago, his speech has been altered but that doesn't stop him from sharing his rather eventful war life. "I flew 23 missions against Japan," shared the veteran. "I could hear the rumblings of war."
WWII pilot celebrates 100th birthday in Bradenton https://t.co/paz80Spbgy— Gregory W Berg (@GregoryWBerg) 10 November 2019
In 1940, when his companions were being drafted to the US Army, Koser enlisted in the Army Air Corps to undergo flight training before being sent overseas. The experiences that followed are still clearly etched in his mind as though it happened yesterday. Born in 1919 in St. Joseph, Missouri, Koser was a B-29 pilot with the 6th Bomb Group, 39th Bomb Squadron, 313th Bombardment Wing of the 20th Air Force during some portions of his 24-year-Air-Force career. "Some of them were easy. Some of them were tough," he explained.
When the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, was being prepped in Tinian to carry the atomic bomb, he was based there. After carrying out 23 missions successfully, he stated that he was the only known pilot to have survived after rolling a B-29 Superfortress. He actually made it to the base with two of his four engines blown! "Another one of my missions was over Japan and the flak was heavy [at] that time. The flak hit one of our airplanes. No one was injured but it knocked out the propeller on the No. 4 engine. Then the engineer said we were losing pressure on the No. 3 engine. But I continued on, flying on two engines on a four-engine airplane (two engines on one side, too). We were flying along and had to drop down to 5,000 feet so that we were at a lower altitude for [a] bailout," he shared according to a report by Herald Tribune.
Instead of being terrified of such events, it actually motivated him to stay and serve his country. "I loved the Air Force. I loved flying," said Koser. It was this devotion towards his service that earned him two distinguished flying crosses, two-unit citations, and five air medals reports Fox 10. "We got to Iwo Jima and we couldn’t see anything, couldn’t bail anybody out, which was good because I didn’t want to bail out anyway. I was flying OK. I just stayed down at 5,000 feet, all the way back to the Marianas. We got there about 1½ hours late and the radio had been knocked out so I didn’t even know where we were. We landed slowly and then the third engine cut out due to lack of fuel. So we were down to one engine. But we made it. On that mission, I got one of my Distinguished Flying Crosses," shared Koser.
During his 24 years in the Air Force, he also got the opportunity to work as a personal aide to former US President Harry Truman. Eventually, the war hero retired as a colonel. Now, he is 100-year-old and determined to live a little longer. While attending the celebration of this historic moment in his life, Fox News urged Koser to share what he wanted for his birthday. To this, he said, "God willing, I’ll make 102."