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World War II veteran conquers the skies again at 95

WHITEVILLE, Tenn. — It's never too late to accomplish a dream or conquer new heights, and this Memorial Day, one local World War II veteran did just that, while also paying tribute to fallen service members.

Luke McLaurine, 95, suited up for a skydiving jump Monday, but it wasn't his first time in a parachute. This jump went better than his first, some 75 years ago.

"The first time was not exactly a success," McLaurine said, taking us back to when he was just 20 years old, serving in the Army Air Corps.

"I was on a B-24, and we were over Austria and we started having engine problems, and finally, three out of the four engines failed to function," he recalled. "I jumped out of the airplane and I was in the air about 10 seconds before it flipped me upside-down, and I hit the ground and it knocked me unconscious. And then I was captured by two little boys with a rifle."

Those little boys then took him to the Germans. He was a POW for six months before he was released.

Luke McLaurin at Monday's skydive, and around the time of his first sydive.

With the help of Forever Young Senior Veterans, McLaurine chose to make his next big jump on Memorial Day.

"It brought tears to my eyes and it gave me chills to be able to do something that's on his bucket list. It makes him happy and it makes us happy, too," said Diane Hight with Forever Young.

But he wasn't alone, joined by other veterans that also served in World War II and Vietnam, as well as his grandson.

"All of those that served, and I mean everybody from the original, all the way through the Middle East and everything, we need this to know that we're remembered," McLaurine said.

Together they took the three-mile trip up, and then the free fall back down to Earth and the dozens of family and friends eager to greet them.

After his landing this time, McLaurine had a warm welcome.

"It was better than the first time, that's for sure," he said afterward. "Just jumping out of the airplane was great but then falling real fast, I said, 'What's going on here folks?' But after the chute opened, that was what I was waiting for. That was marvelous."

Skydiving might've been on his bucket list but McLaurine says his Memorial Day jump is far from his last.

"I'm gonna do it until I can solo by myself, and on my 100th birthday I'm going to jump solo," he said.

If you recognize McLaurine's last name, his family also owned a bakery in the University of Memphis area for decades. We're told when he's not jumping out of planes, he is a master cookie baker.

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