The U.S. Veterans Administration predicts around 492 World War II veterans pass away every day. John Arant, who served as a ball turret gunner in WWII, says he’s lucky to be here today.
He recently celebrated his 90th birthday, but he says his life could have easily been ended early. He and his crew suffered many injuries, taking down German planes in mid-air. He remembers one of his 32 missions in particular.
"There were 11 of us left the base, and we were the only one who came back,” Arant said.
He says he was glad to be going home to Sharpe, Kentucky. He says after the war, he went back to normal. He went back to the farm.
Becoming an airplane gunner wasn’t Arant’s first goal. He wanted to complete an exam that would qualify him to go to pilot school. Arant says he’s didn’t make the cut. But his pilot says the plane stayed in the sky longer with his finger on the trigger.
Although Arant says he’s thankful to have left the war without injury, he says he witnessed the injuries others suffered.
"Nineteen people that I was on the ship with didn't have no arms or legs or stuff like that, and I fed them and took care of them on the ship," Arant said.