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‘I’m one of a kind’: Lincoln’s WWII veteran reflects on his 100 years of life

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) – Seated in a rocking chair with wire on his feet, a World War II veteran finds himself in a different chair than he was used to in his previous life.

“I’m One of a Kind; very few people get to live to be 100,” she said Monday at her senior living center in Lincoln.

His rocking chair took the place of a fighter pilot’s cockpit seat.

Born in Omaha, retired Lieutenant Colonel Neal Clemmer has been rethinking his life but won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Clemmer flew 73 missions, totaling over 160 combat hours in enemy airspace.

“We carried three hours of fuel, internally, so a mission only lasted 2.5 hours,” Clemmer said. “You could fly a couple a day. But I once flew three missions a day and did visual reconnaissance. The way you spell visual recognition is telltale. I’ve flown spy missions.

Not only that, but during his tour, he helped train members of the Royal Air Force in California while working in rocket technology.

This later led to his role leading a team that put the first weather satellite into orbit.

“The governor made me an admiral in the Nebraska Navy, which is a great honor,” he said. “Growing up, I remember many famous Nebraskas being made admirals, and I’m very proud to be among them.”

Clemmer enjoyed life with his wife, Mary Jane, until her death in September, three months before their 75th wedding anniversary.

They had four daughters and had eight grandchildren.

Now, the family is expecting the birth of their 21st great-grandchild soon.

To this day, Clemmer continues to serve her people, but now in the form of knitting.

With an electronic machine, he makes hats for special education students and others in need.

And her one major piece of advice in all of this: stay in school.

“Looking back, take your education,” she said. “Do not give up. Set your goals and set them high.

Another of his many hats: that of an author.

Clemmer published his first book in 2004 and now, with a new computer, he plans to publish another book this spring that fills in more gaps from the many stories he continues to remember.

Tags: cockpit, fighter pilot, hats, lincoln, military, missions, neal clemmer, nebraska navy, rocking chair, royal air force, senior living center, veteran, wwii, WWII, yarn

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