HAUGHTON, La. -- As a boy, John Husak and his family had experienced the sorrow of war. But he had a dream. And they way to get there was in the U.S. military.
“I always wanted to fly,” says the man who grew up on a farm in the town of West, Texas.
And fly he did. After ROTC in college at Baylor, John entered the Air Force for flight training in 1955, and became a navigator. His first aircraft was a C-47, then the B-52, and ultimately, a new fighter-bomber, the F-111.
"It was designed to penetrate enemy defenses because of its small radar point," John showed us as he held a model of the sleek jet, which was his favorite.
John joined the Air Force, despite the grief over losing an older brother in World War II. His brother Leo was buried as an unknown soldier in the Netherlands.
“It was very difficult when we found out that he was first missing in action, and then killed in action. That was tough,” John remembers as a boy. “But it didn't deter me from doing what I wanted to do.”
That’s even though John’s mother did not want him to join the Air Force.
“Mother probably prayed every night for me to get out of the service," John remembers with a slight smile. "In fact, when we got married, one of the things she told my wife she told her that I wish you would have convinced him to stop flying.”
John had a little action over Korea amid the uneasy end to hostilities. And he missed action over Vietnam, switching from to F-111 fighter bomber just as the war was starting. John says that version of the jet was not used in Vietnam.
“I have never been shot at, fortunately. I did lose some buddies in the B-52’s in the bombing raids in Vietnam. But I was out of the 52's at that time.”
John rose to Lieutenant Colonel in his nearly 30-year Air Force career.
“Glad that I was able to fly and stay in as long as I could," he says.
The remains of John’s brother were positively identified four years ago. He was distinterred in Europe and returned to the family’s hometown of West, Texas for burial. The town is home to many families, like the Husaks, that immigrated from Czechoslovakia.
John has lived in the Bossier area since 1974.