This Wednesday KCBD would like to honor World War II veteran Jack Fletcher as this week's "Hometown Hero". Jack has traveled across the world and now lives in Australia, but a special ceremony in his hometown of Spur, Texas brought him back 70 years after the war.
Born in 1925 in Spur, Jack moved with his family to another town. Just a teen, in 1941 Jack's parents were both killed in a tragic car accident. He and his siblings moved back to Spur to live with their grandparents.
A few years had passed, and Jack was nearing the end of his senior year at Spur High School… but his graduation would have to wait. "Oh man, me and my three brothers all volunteered as quickly as we could," said Jack. Before he could even finish school he enlisted with several of his buddies to go fight in World War II.
"My friend Corbit said I'll go to Europe to win the war, and you go to the Pacific and win it out there, and we'll get back together. God bless him, he was killed in his first mission," said Jack. "We had seven buddies of mine that were killed. I was pulled back to head quarters before they came up the ridge and that's the only reason I'm still here. It bothered me for a long time… I should have been with them you know."
Leaving the military in 1946, Jack found his way back to Spur. "When I got off the bus at the end of my lane there sat David," Jack said as he began to cry. "That little dog… my grandmother said he waited at the end of the lane each day when I left."
Just as quickly as Jack returned to Spur, he once again left. This time he found himself overseas for a different reason. Jack traveled the world working in the agricultural business. An expert with land, Jack found himself in Australia and brought in the first feed lot; now a multi-billion dollar market. He also helped create the Australian Land and Cattle Company. "We bought 4.3 million acres of country, a ranch about 11 times the size of Dickens County," he said.
The 86-year-old had accomplished quite a bit in his lifetime, but something was still missing. Jack had been so busy fighting for country in WWII, that his high school graduation never came around… until now.
Last Friday Jack came back to his hometown as an honorary graduate of the Class of 2012. "The superintendent assured them I was no slow learner even though it's taken me 70 years," he laughed.
Though age separated Jack from the ten other teens graduating, he had no trouble fitting in as he joked around with the group. "If you would have waited until you were 86-years-old to graduate you could've had a camera come film you," he jokingly said to one of the grads.
The first named called, Jack walked across the stage in his blue cap and gown. Finally Jack was given his High School diploma. "I had to look to make sure they put a certificate in there," he laughed. "I was afraid they were kidding me!"
Ending the day by tossing his cap with the other graduates, Friday was a day this hero will never forget.
"Spur will always hold a special place in my heart," he said with a smile.
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