FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky’s most senior World War II veteran, Oakley Hacker, turned 107 on Monday.
Hacker achieved the rank of gunner’s mate second class (GM2) and served as an armed guard in the Navy aboard the SS Oliver Wolcott. According to a news release, they were referred to as the “Forgotten Heroes” because of their service protecting cargo, Liberty, and transport ships and did not receive much news coverage. Oakley provided gunnery support during D-Day, June 6, 1944, when more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, as part of the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Hacker was born in Bernice, Kentucky, and is the son of William Dillon “Crow” Hacker and Mary E. Hornsby Hacker, from Clay County. He was a state worker, owned a used car lot, and raised his family of four children with his wife, Nella Mae. Hacker bought and sold cars until he was 92 years old.
“I was proud to serve in our Navy, as did every other able-bodied man at the time,” said Hacker. “Even though war is a horrible experience no matter whose side you’re on, I felt I had a duty to defend this country and my family. I’d do it all over again.”
To commemorate the event, Senate President Robert Stivers delivered a special Senate resolution commemorating the milestone.
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“It’s a privilege to meet a member of the Greatest Generation and celebrate his unique contributions to this country and the world,” Stivers said. “It warms my heart to honor someone who faithfully served in one of our nation’s bloodiest wars, returned to our beautiful commonwealth and continued making contributions to the community while he raised his family.”