- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2017

A World War II veteran says a “Flying Fortress” ride on his 99th birthday made him feel like it was 1941 again.

Eugene Leonard survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but on Saturday he told reporters in Mesa, Arizona, that it sometimes seems as if time passed in an instant. The former sergeant, who joined the Marine Corps as a mechanic in 1936, made his comments while experiencing at least one more flight inside a B-17 bomber.

“It’s old memories,” Mr. Leonardtold a local Fox News affiliate. “It seems like yesterday, in a way. When you hit my age, time slows up. … There was combat. We had to fly into Guadalcanal. They had control over Guadalcanal and we had to slip in with fire protection.”

The veteran, who also served in the Air Force, said he spent “thousands of hours” in R4Ds (modified C-47 Skytrains) and C-46 Commandos.

Guy Coulombe, a friend of Mr. Leonard who set up the event, said the veteran is likely responsible for saving dozens of lives.

“I’d say indirectly, he saved about 40 lives with his maintenance on airplanes and preventing pilots from making mistakes,” Mr. Coulombe said. “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.”

Mr. Leonard recently lost his second wife and now lives with his son, the Fox affiliate reported.



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