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The 'luckiest' guy you will ever meet

11:05 PM, Nov 11, 2012   |    comments
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But even without that last name, John "Lucky" Luckadoo's past is indicative of a person exceedingly worthy of that moniker.

"I'm probably the luckiest guy you will ever meet," Luckadoo said as he stood on top of the control tower of what was once a very busy landing spot for hundreds of B-17's. "I was a copilot newly graduated from pilot school along with 40 other copilots. Of those 40, there were only four of us that completed a tour of 25 missions."

"It really didn't make that much difference as to how skilled you were as a pilot or what you did or didn't do. It was the fact that you happened to dodge a bullet that just didn't have your name on it," Luckadoo said.

It's no wonder why Luckadoo's 100th Bomb Group was so quick to earn another nickname.

The "Bloody Hundredth" lost 768 men over the skies of Europe during World War II.

"We had 400 percent turnover in personnel during the first 90 days of combat," Luckadoo said.

Earlier this year, with the help of the Denver-based Greatest Generations Foundation, 9NEWS traveled to England and France with a dozen World War II veterans and a dozen cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs .

"This is part of my heritage. It's very important that we remember this," Cadet Christian Minnick said. "Many of them were 19 years old, two years my junior. I can't imagine being in charge of crews at that age."

Their history professor, himself a veteran of the Iraq War, said this program would likely be one of the most valuable lessons the cadets would learn during the course of the studies.

"Gaining air superiority [over Europe] allowed the United States to take the fight to [the Germans] and help expedite the war," Major Matt Basler said. "We were proving to many people that this is what we can do. Here is how airpower can win a war. These men are the ones who experienced it first-hand."

Click here more information on the Greatest Generations Foundation.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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