WWII pilot celebrates 100th birthday in Bradenton
BRADENTON, Fla. - Hanging on his bedroom wall, Jack Koser's service medals tell a story of a true American hero.
Instead of being drafted, Jack enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940. While a stroke has altered his speech, he remembers it clearly and just like yesterday.
"I flew 23 missions against Japan," he said. "I could hear the rumblings of war."
Based in Tinian, where the Enola Gay was being prepped to carry the atomic bomb. He flew a B-29 with the 6th Bomb Group, 39th Bombardment Group and the 313th Bombardment Wing of the 20th Air Force.
"Some of them were easy. Some of them were tough," he recalls.
While humble in his speaking, Jack was also the only known pilot to roll a B-29 Superfortress and survive. He even flew back to base with two out of four engines blown on the same side.
"I loved the Air Force. I loved flying," he said.
He received two unit citations, two distinguished flying crosses and five air medals.
After the war, Jack continued serving his country for 24 years. He acted as President Harry Truman's personal aide at the Post War Pentagon and later retired as a colonel.
This week, with his family by his side, retired Co. Jack Koser celebrates another milestone: his 100th birthday.
"I feel good," he said.
He only has one wish.
"God willing, I'll make 102," he said.