SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Local veteran, Brigadier General Leo LaCasse, shares his story as pilot during World War II.
Brigadier General LaCasse devoted his life to the military. From an early age, he was captivated by the sky.
“I’ve held just about every job the air force has for pilots and I flew an awful lot of airplanes and gave a lot of young men a chance to learn to fly with me . . . I instructed for about a year and said, enough of this. I have to get into the action.”Brigadier General Leo LaCasse, World War II pilot
In June 1943, LaCasse joined the 8th Air Force, 548th Bomb Group and was later assigned to the 385th bomb group. As a B-17 bomber, he flew numerous aircraft, including the Flying Fortress — a plane that played a pivotal role in the war by dropping more bombs than any other aircraft.
“You come in as a rookie knowing absolutely nothing about it and I can guarantee you that within 30 days you’re a member of the organization and you’ve learned just about everything you’re going to learn . . . you change,” said LaCasse.
During his time as a World War II pilot, he flew over 35 missions, survived three crash landings, and evaded 4,000 troops. LaCasse earned France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor Medal. It was his determination and dedication to the military that helped him through his years of service. A dedication so strong, it stayed with him even after the war ended.
“I don’t have to retire. I don’t need to retire. Cause my home is the military, especially in our military. And uh I’ve been in it for so long. It’s so much a part of me that I don’t let anything bother me . . . I must say that I have the true life of a military man.”Brigadier General Leo LaCasse, World War II pilot
LaCasse now resides in a VA medical center in Salem. He will celebrate his 100th birthday this July.
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