Nickname served Luckasevic well in World War II
The Christmas card read: “Greetings from Italy. Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
It was signed “Love Lucky.”
John Luckasevic sent two such cards home in 1944, during the last holiday of World War II.
True to his nickname, Luckasevic acknowledged he was “lucky” to survive the war.
The lifelong Charleroi resident attended school through the 11th grade before joined America's workforce.
He became the youngest manager in the chain for Altman's Feed store. He worked at the Charleroi store until he was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 25 in June 1942.
He married his wife Mary Ann on May 31, 1941, just 13 months before being drafted. She worked in a beauty shop in town and was staying with her sister in Charleroi when they met.
“She always walked up the street, so I made sure I was on the top step of the store looking for her,” Luckasevic said.
Luckasevic underwent boot camp training at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was assigned to Fort Dupont, Del., before being shipped overseas for the duration of the war.
He served in Africa and Italy with the 5th Division, ultimately attaining the rank of first sergeant. A military police officer, he served in Africa until the invasion of Italy.
Luckasevic landed with the 5th Division in southern Italy, near Sorrento.
“I was there the first day of the invasion,” Luckasevic said. “That's how you get an arrowhead.
“It was a little bit scary, the damn planes coming over bombing. Our lieutenant got killed right away. We had a bunch of prisoners waiting to be put on a ship when a plane came overhead machine-gunning everyone and then dropped a bomb on the ship.”
Serving the bulk of the war in Italy, Luckasevic earned four battle stars.
Never wounded, Luckasevic had plenty of “close calls.”
“One guy stepped on a mine where I was supposed to be with him, but another guy had gone with him,” Luckasevic said.
He also recalled the time a German artillery shell blew up the jeep in which he was riding, narrowly missing him.
“I was lucky to get out of there,” he said.
Luckasevic spent Christmas 1944 in Bologna, Italy. It was a quiet day. Dinner consisted of normal Army rations, he said.
Luckasevic sent Christmas cards to both his wife and his mother.
Three Luckasevic brothers survived the war.
John and Alex Luckasevic had a photo taken together at home before they went overseas Alex Luckasevic was in Germany on Christmas 1944. William Luckasevic was in a convalescent hospital in France at the time.
The three brothers did not reunite until they got home in late November 1945. Alex and John Luckasevic opened the A&J Fruit Market at 619 Fallowfield Ave. a week before Christmas 1945.
When William Luckasevic returned home from the war, he joined the family business.
“Christmas Day 1945, we were working at the store,” Luckasevic said. “We had the store open. That was a busy time.”
At 95, John Luckasevic is the only surviving brother.
“They've called me Lucky all my life, since I was a small kid,” Luckasevic said. “It was especially a good nickname during the war.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Monongahela seeks community help for Mounds Park upgrades
- Outdoors group pumps up annual Marianna Canoe Race
- New Bentleyville Tavern owner raises the bar on charity
- Charges mount for rowdy Monongahela drug suspect
- Mon Valley readers request familiar journey to Memory Lane
- Monessen native receives Purple Heart, recalls Fort Hood shootings
- 3 to stand trial in Mon City drug sweep cases
- Cal U professor’s ‘last lecture’ draws standing ovation
- Former Monessen man shot dead near Philadelphia
- Monessen man struck by train while chasing his dog
- Washington native McCune honored as World Class CEO