For many their service in the armed forces turned into lifelong passions.
No one more so than Leo LaCasse
He served as a pilot in the 385th bomb group. Rising in the ranks from an enlisted men, to Brigadier General over the course of his career.
During World War Two, he flew 35 missions, was shot down three times, and was awarded the highest French medal.
And while he now lives in Roanoke, during World War Two he felt most at home in the planes he flew.
“It was like home. I didn’t feel any difference. Some of them were cramped but it didn’t make any difference to me because I was the pilot. When you’re packed in an aircraft and don’t have the room to move your body in the cockpit. Any airplane you fly after that is good,” said LaCasse.
LaCasse flew many different styles of planes. Single engine, two-engine, and non-combat over his years of service.
However, the B-17 Flying Fortress stands out strongest in his memory.
More than 640-thousand bombs were dropped from them over Europe, destroying German and Italian factories, and helping to end their ability to make war.