MT. VERNON, IL (KFVS) - A rare piece of WWII history has made its way to Southern Illinois.
As part of a nationwide tour through the Experimental Aircraft Association, The B-17 Aircraft has touched down here at the Mt. Vernon airport – a plane that brings back strong memories to one World War two veteran.
"As I look back over my life at 90 something years…I realized I lived by three words pretty well controlled my entire life and they were: I wanted to," said 93-year-old WWII veteran, Evertt Atkinson said.
Atkinson flew B-17 and B-29 aircrafts and said the mental aspect was the toughest part.
"You need to know why you're in that airplane. You need to know what that airplane is expected to do. You need to know how to make that airplane do it," Atkinson said.
According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, more than 12,000 bombers were built in the 1940s. And more than 4,000 were lost during war, mostly in high danger bombing missions over Europe.
For Atkinson, who dropped out of school when he was 13 and enlisted at 19… it was quite the journey of learning to fly…but says he knew he could because he wanted to and quitting wasn't an option.
"The I wanted to part of my life really came to the forefront of my life – I had to keep up with those college boys and had to know all of those academics."
Atkinson says although there were tough times during his service in World War Two – he's learned to make the best out of every situation.
"I choose to be happy everyday," Atkinson said. "Some days are more happier than others but I refuse to go to bed at night worried about things I cannot change."
This B-17 aircraft will be here this Fourth of July weekend at the Mt. Vernon airport. For more information, click here.