Luckadoo, John

John Luckadoo was born March 16, 1922 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He grew up living a good life:  his father was a stockbroker who raised horses, and new clothes and good food were the norm.  1929 changed much of that though; the stock market crash brought about a different kind of life for John’s family.  All things considered, they were better off than many, but the luxuries of the 1920s were a thing of the past.  John went to school, where he was part of the JROTC, and he remembers being steeped in a military background – not to mention dancing.    He and his friends were following the news of the war in Europe, and John and a good friend even contemplated enlisting in the RCAF.  John’s father did not allow him to join at that time, but his friend did and went to fight in the North African campaign as a Spitfire pilot.  The attack on Pearl Harbor happened not long after this, and John knew his life would be transformed:  he volunteered for the US Army Air Corps, and training began.  He earned his wings and was ready to go overseas; unusually John flew his B-17 to Europe, while most air crew were transported on troop ships.  John ended up at Thorpe Abbot’s airfield, flying with the 350th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group.  The missions were being flown without fighter escorts this time, and the losses were appalling; that said, John and his crew managed to complete their 25 missions in 89 days, all the while battling against the “4 F’s” – fear, freezing temperatures, flak, and fighters.  John made it though, and the nickname “Lucky” – a natural given his last name – had another reason to stick.  His tour completed, John returned to the US, where he would finish out the war training and inspecting new air crews.  He was trained on the B-29 and expected to deploy to the Pacific theater, but the atomic bombs ended that possibility.  John began the process of readjusting to civilian life, which he admits was not easy, but he did it and found his way into the rhythms of postwar American life.  John Luckadoo was interviewed by Crestwood students over zoom in November 2022.