Lubbock World War II veteran reflects on meaning of Memorial Day as he turns 100

WWII veteran turns 100 on Memorial Day

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - For retired Air Force Veteran Nat Luger, Memorial Day is a day of reflection for those who lost their lives in the service of their country.

“This is my first uniform in the Air Force. I was really proud to be a serviceman and being active in helping our country.”

Luger has a lot of stories to tell, after living so long and serving 20 years in the Army and Air Force combined. We asked him to share his wisdom as he prepares to turn 100 years old on Memorial Day.

We spoke with Nat in his Lubbock home over 70 years after he served his four years in the Pacific Northwest. He told us about one flight he remembers clearly: “I ended up flying in Alaska, then we dropped bombs in the islands of Japan.”

Attu is a remote island, 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. That’s where his plane took off with five other men, on a mission to attack the Japanese.

"You really can't use the radios because it can pick up your signal and it's a dangerous thing to do, so we had to shut down our radios when we were near Japan so that they didn't know we were coming."

They carried out their mission on B-25 planes.

“We moved bombs so we could put fuel tanks in our planes to make that longer trip. The B-25s weren’t really a long-range train. It was really meant for 200 or 300 miles, but we flew 1,000 miles. We wore electric suits to keep warm and half of the time, they didn’t work, so we shivered.”

But they were able to accomplish their mission.

"And then I turned our radio on to talk to headquarters and let them know we accomplished our mission and that we were headed home."

All five returned home safely, but there was a problem...

“We didn’t have enough fuel.”

But they made it, and Nat knows that not everyone makes it back home safely. He said this is what Memorial Day is all about remembering those who gave their lives.

“I was lucky enough to come home. My family- I came from a large family where we had five brothers serve in the armed services. They served overseas and every one of them came home and safe and sound without a scratch, so I consider that God was with us.”

Nat shared his secrets about making it to 100 years old. He said he tries to stay busy and stay on his toes.

“I walk about a mile every day, weather permitting and I love West Texas except when the wind is blowing too bad.”

Nat said he doesn’t like to just sit around the house. He likes to take walks in places he’s never been before and eat a healthy diet, unless his wife, Marcie, is making hamburgers.

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