The Oldest and the Youngest in the Room 

May 31, 2024   |   By Patrick Nugent

At a recent Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) luncheon, 102-year-old World War II veteran Maj. John “Lucky” Luckadoo, a distinguished B-17 pilot from the 351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, shared his riveting wartime experiences. The event featured a significant moment when 18-year-old CAP cadet Trevor Chesler, a JROTC senior from Wiley High School in Texas, met Luckadoo. 

Luckadoo, who served at RAF Thorpe Abbotts Airfield in Diss, England, recounted his harrowing missions over Europe. Flying four B-17s—Sunny, Sunny II, Skipper, and Alice from Dallas II (also known as Rogers’ Raiders)—he completed 25 perilous missions targeting sites in France and Germany. His narratives illuminated the extreme dangers faced by bomber crews, from navigating through enemy flak to engaging with German fighter planes. 

Cadet Chesler, poised to join the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets this summer, showed profound respect and admiration for Luckadoo by gifting him his Corps challenge coin, a symbol of honor and membership. This act underscored Chesler’s deep respect for Luckadoo’s service and the values of honor and respect upheld by the Corps of Cadets. Reflecting on the meeting, Chesler expressed deep admiration, acknowledging the sacrifices made by veterans like Luckadoo who fought for freedom. 

Luckadoo’s firsthand accounts not only highlighted the strategic and physical challenges of aerial warfare but also the emotional and human aspects of service. His bomb group, known as the “Bloody Hundredth,” due to its high casualty rates, became emblematic of the courage and resilience of the 8th Air Force during the war. These experiences have been immortalized in the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks series, “Masters of the Air” on Apple TV+. 

At 102 years old, Luckadoo remains sharp and passionate about sharing history. He continues his educational mission in honor of his late wife, who had urged him to persist in this endeavor. Through his presentations, he ensures that the heroism and sacrifices of wartime are remembered and appreciated by future generations.