Kentucky’s oldest WWII veteran honored on 107th birthday
Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Kentucky’s oldest World War II veteran, Oakley Hacker, turned 107 on Monday, and to help commemorate the event, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, delivered a special Senate resolution commemorating the milestone.
During the celebration, held at the Paul E. Patton Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard, Stivers said, “It’s a privilege to meet a member of the Greatest Generation and celebrate his unique contributions to this country and the world. 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.”
Hacker achieved the rank of gunner’s mate second class (GM2) and served as an armed guard in the Navy aboard the cargo ship SS Oliver Wolcott. 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.
“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 who’s side you’re on, I felt I had a duty to defend this country and my family. I’d do it all over again.”
Hacker was born in the Clay County community of Bernice, 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 am thrilled to celebrate Daddy in such a big way and am so happy that our family and friends could participate,” said Fatima Hacker Brown, Hacker’s daughter. “It warms my heart to have created yet another special family memory to cherish.”