WWII vet will celebrate 90th birthday on Veterans Day - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WWII vet will celebrate 90th birthday on Veterans Day

Col. Orv recalls the time his plane crashed in enemy territory. (Photo source: WLOX News) Col. Orv recalls the time his plane crashed in enemy territory. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Col. Orv proudly showed off the many awards and certificates he earned during his career, like this one he received for exceeding the speed of sound. (Photo source: WLOX News) Col. Orv proudly showed off the many awards and certificates he earned during his career, like this one he received for exceeding the speed of sound. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Col. Orv displayed a photo of him leaving the Pentagon. He then came to Keesler Air Force Base, where he retired. (Photo source: WLOX News) Col. Orv displayed a photo of him leaving the Pentagon. He then came to Keesler Air Force Base, where he retired. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Veterans Day is on Wednesday. For World War II veteran Elvin Orville Wyatt, or Col. Orv as he's fondly known, the day is extra special. In addition to being honored Nov. 11 for his distinguished military career, the proud veteran will also celebrate his 90th birthday.

Col. Orv enlisted in the military on Sept. 10, 1942, as a teenager. Despite his young age, the colonel said he wouldn't trade his 34-year flying career for anything. 

"It's called a Mach buster," Col. Orv explained, referring to the type of plane he piloted. "It's a German word and it signified exceeding the speed of sound in an airplane." 

The colonel reported for duty in the U.S. Army Air Corp, where he became a gunner on a B-29 bomber in World War II. He would go on to fight in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well.

"I was in a situation one time where I got out of the airplane and into the river because the airplane was on fire when I landed in the river," the colonel reminisced.

Luckily, the former fighter pilot was picked up by allies and taken to safety. However, it wasn't long before he got shot down a second time, and this time, he was behind enemy lines. 

"When I was shot down, the weather was bad," recalled the war hero. "And a real short time after that, the weather turned really sour."

That bad weather, said Col. Orv, was his saving grace, helping to shield him from capture until he was rescued.

Even though he loved serving in the military, the colonel said he also has memories that he's not so fond of.  

"Knowing that you killed people, or animals even," said Col. Orv. "We shot camels, camels hauling gasoline to the Vietnamese." 

According to the veteran of three wars, having the chance to visit over 80 countries and being airborne were two of the things he loved most about his military career.

"We belonged to each other, the airplanes and me," he said with a smile.

Something else that belongs to him? A silver star for surviving more than 100 missions overseas. He also received numerous other awards, certificates, and accolades throughout his career, all of which he proudly displayed.

After a stint with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Col. Orv retired as the Inspector General at Keesler Air Force Base.

"There were some minutes I didn't love," he said. "And those were some difficult minutes, but otherwise the total 34 years was just a good time."

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