99-year-old World War Two Veteran gets a Flight in a B-17 for Birthday

Eugene Leonard served in the Marines and the Air Force. He joined the military in 1936, serving as a mechanic. He has lots of old memories, some of which have not faded with time.

He was a survivor of Pearl Harbor, and that day – and the days that followed – will remain with him for the rest of his life.

Guy Coulombe, an old friend, said he figures that Leonard saved 40 lives by maintaining airplanes and preventing pilots from committing errors. Coulombe became friends with Leonard during monthly meetings of Pearl Harbor survivors in San Diego, where Leonard lived at the time.

Coulombe arranged a flight in a B-17 bomber for Leonard on his 99th birthday. The flight reminded Leonard of 1941.

“There was combat. We had to fly into Guadalcanal. They had control over Guadalcanal and we had to slip in with fire protection,” said Leonard.

“I spent thousands of hours in the R4D and C46s,” Leonard recalled.

He was shot during the war but recovered from his wounds.

Coulombe arranged the flight after his friend lost his second wife and moved to live with his son, Fox News reported.

“It makes me feel good, it makes me feel good and I know that Gene is happy. I think it’s something that’s going to help him out quite a bit for the future,” said Coulombe.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE