World War II pilot enlisted day after Pearl Harbor attack
98-year-old Leesburg man reflects on 104 missions, including D-Day
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – On this Memorial Day, we honor those who sacrificed their lives in combat.
Here in Central Florida, there are many veterans who fought in World War I and World War II.
Jack Hallet was a combat pilot in WWII.
He remembers when he enlisted as an aviation cadet a day after the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941.
"I think a lot about the guys that we lost and also the guys that still live," Hallet said.
Two years after enlisting, he was awarded his wings.
While in Europe, Hallet flew 104 missions aboard several different kinds of aircraft.
"Our type of work was armed, what they call armed reconnaissance," he said. At 98, Hallet's memories are pretty vivid.
"In all my missions, I only got in one fight against enemy air. I did shoot down, well, I did knock down an ME-109," he said.
Hallet was part of D-Day on June 6, 1944.
When Allied forces invaded northern France he flew top cover over the beaches of Normandy
"Sometimes we did what we call an area of patrol where the B-17s came underneath us. The missions were dangerous and everybody and his kid brother shooting at you," Hallet said. "Because it was so many people shooting at you, it was a lot of luck, and I was lucky."
On Memorial Day, a special service for the 75th anniversary of D-Day will take place at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Winter Park.
During the ceremony, Hallet will be one of two WWII combat airmen who will be honored for their service.
"I want to give credit to my crew. The winter of 44/45 was horrendous. A lot of the work you could not do with gloves and they would work all night if they had to to make sure I flew my airplane."
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