Jacksonville WWII Vet Has His Story Archived In Library Of Congress

Oct 6, 2015

World War II veteran Richard Stacy joined the Army Air Corps at the age of 19, before he graduated high school.
Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A WWII veteran who lives in Jacksonville is having his story archived in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

His video interview is part of an initiative called the Veterans History Project, aimed at preserving combat-veterans’ experiences for future generations.

On Tuesday, Florida Blue’s Cindy James sat across from Stacy at the health insurer’s retail office at the St. Johns Town Center. The World War II vet said he’s originally from Texas.

“Early in life, in high school, I milked cows and paid for piano lessons,” Stacy said. “I learned to play the piano and then the boys got to calling me a sissy and I quit. I regretted it ever since.”

Stacy said he lost his mom early on and his dad worked extra hard to provide for him and his siblings. He said to his knowledge, he was the first in the family to serve in the military.

“I was still in high school whenever they told me I was going in the service and they gave me a deferment,” Stacy said. “Instead of taking the deferment, I went ahead and went in.”

Stacy was just a half a year shy of getting his diploma.

“Well I went in there and I took a test and they put me in the aviation cadet program. I wanted to fly airplanes,” he said. “I rode horses all my life and I didn’t like riding horses so I wanted to fly.”

Stacy never did get to fly a plane. But he did serve in an aircrew on a B-17 bomber. While bombing oil depots in Italy to starve Axis Powers of resources, he had more than his fair share of close calls.

“Flak about the size of your index finger come through and hit me right in the chest and I had that thing on and it stuck there,” he said. “Knocked me completely loose from all my equipment and at 28,500 feet you do not live very long.”

But even with all the risks, Stacy said he doesn't think what he did was particularly heroic — he was just doing his job.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates a little more than 800,000 World War II veterans are still living, but more than 400 die every day.