Kentucky’s oldest known WWII veteran celebrates 107th birthday

Oakley Hacker, Kentucky’s most senior World War II veteran, celebrated his 107th birthday surrounded by family and friends.

HAZARD, Ky. — Kentucky’s most senior World War II veteran, Oakley Hacker, turned 107 years young on Monday, Oct. 2. To help commemorate the event, Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) delivered a special Senate resolution commemorating the milestone.
“It’s a privilege to meet a member of the Greatest Generation and celebrate his unique contributions to this country and the world,” Stivers said. “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 SS Oliver Wolcott. They were referred to as the “Forgotten Heroes” because of their service protecting cargo 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,” Hacker said. “Even though war is a horrible experience no matter whose 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 Bernice, Kentucky, and is 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 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,” Fatima Hacker Brown, Hacker’s daughter, said. “It warms my heart to have created yet another special family memory to cherish.”