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'Words can't describe how much I enjoyed it,' Parade honors 100-year-old WWII veteran

Posted at 5:21 PM, May 28, 2024

PULASKI (NBC 26) — Eugene "Jack" Kraszewski rode through his hometown of Pulaski in a WWII-era Jeep during a parade in his honor on Tuesday. NBC 26's Pari Apostolakos sat down with Kraszewski in his home ahead of a special trip.

  • Eugene "Jack" Kraszewski of Pulaski rode through the streets of his hometown of Pulaski on Tuesday
  • He goes by Jack because he told his teacher as a child his name was Jackie Coogan, like the celebrity he used to listen to on the radio, and it stuck
  • Kraszewski is a 100-year-old WWII veteran
  • He is returning to France with 70 other WWII veterans to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day

    (The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story with additional details for web.)

Riding through the street in a Jeep much like the one he drove in the army, Eugene Kraszewski, who goes by Jack, got the ultimate birthday present.
His hometown of Pulaski honored the 100-year-old World War II veteran with a parade.

"Words can't describe how much I enjoyed it," said Kraszewski. "So many people came out to see me."

Kraszewski was born in Pulaski in 1924 and at 18, the army drafted Jack to fight in World War II.

"Jack has been always a quiet, humble guy," Mark Heck, Pulaski Area Community Education Director, said. "When this came about, it was just an outpouring of people that wanted to be able to do something to just thank him for everything that he did for us."

Jack faced many dangers during his three years in Europe.

"We'd shoot down strafing aircraft, low flying planes," he said. "'Cause our guns were 40 millimeter and 50 caliber, so we couldn't reach the bombers."

He says his biggest enemy was the cold. At one point, not showering or changing clothes from fall to spring.

"We were out in the wet, in the air, weather, twenty-four-seven," Kraszewski said, "It's cold, would you undress and poke a hole in the creek, in the ice, and wash up? No."

He says he entered France a few months after D-Day. He tearfully remembers the day he finally returned home.

"I walked in the house and I yelled 'Anybody home?' and my dad got up and that was a good reunion," Kraszewski said.

Jack then returned to his job as a cheese maker, where he met his wife. He says his biggest accomplishment has been raising his family.


As for his secret for a long and healthy life: "I don't know, the guy upstairs took care of me," Kraszewski said with a smile.

Jack is returning to France again, with 70 other World War II veterans to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The trip is being organized by American Airlines.

kraszweski with daughter.jpeg

Jack took off on Wednesday to head to France.