WWII vet recounts harrowing plane crash in Pacific Theater
SHERMAN, Texas (KTEN) — America's military heroes will be honored Saturday on Veterans Day.
Purple Heart recipient Royce Tasker of Sherman served during World War II.
"It was an interesting time during those years," said the 100-year-old veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was honored earlier this year as a Texoma Hero.
Tasker enlisted in the military in 1942, taking up aviation.
His final combat mission was in January 1945 as he he and his crew came under fire as their aircraft headed to the Philippines.
"About 20,000 feet and the number two engine got it," Tasker recalled. "Now there's four engines on there, and when they did, all that fuel got knocked out of the airplane because the fuel is in the wings."
The flight crew had to think quickly as the aircraft went into a dive toward unknown territory.
Tasker thought the plane was landing on flat ground, but it turned out to be a rice paddy field. Two of the 10 men on board died; the rest of the crew sustained burn injuries.
He left military service a year later and returned to the U.S.
"I came to Sherman in 1974, and that's when I bought a piece of property here," Tasker recalled. "Remember, you had to have a lot of luck to do things... you had to have a lot of guts to try."
As the country celebrates Veterans Day on Saturday, Royce Tasker is reflecting on where the country would be without the sacrifice of those who wear the uniform.
"If this country didn't survive, what kind of life would that be? And that's what I say when I look at this flag and ask people what the flag means to them."