VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif. (KTXL) — Wallis “Lucky” Lowman crossed out the number “99” and replaced it with “100” on his yellow “older than dirt” sweatshirt on Sunday, surrounded by friends and family.
“I love him with all my heart,” said granddaughter Rochell Lowman-Hall.
The retired Lieutenant Colonel and combat Air Force pilot fought in World War II and the Vietnam War, spending 30 years in the cockpit.
Lowman said he knew there would be some close calls going into the service, but he never doubted he would survive — though there was that one time, when he was flying an F-104 Starfighter 18,000 feet over some Texas mountains when his engine quit.
“I’m doing everything, about wore-out the starter switch — nothing,” Lowman said. “So I look down, I’m going down 11,000 feet a minute. I reached down and pulled the handle, and I had a little lanyard underneath me, and I pulled that back and hit the ground. Very fortunate that I was able to survive.”
A tough guy from the start, Lowman hadn’t so much as taken an aspirin before he turned 18.
“He’s never had an ailment. He doesn’t take pills, like you would think old people,” Rochell said. “He is the most amazing person I’ve ever known.”
These days, you’ll see Lucky and his wife of 42 years, Loretta near the golf course. Their home sits next to the 9th hole.
And when he’s not home, you’ll catch him on that course, about once a week.
“Just swinging a club. Somebody going to holler and say, quit that will you?” Lowman said.
Lowman remembers the days when a gallon of gasoline cost a nickel and a day’s work earned you a quarter. He said that was a time when life seemed less complicated and family came first.
“He’s such a man of principle. He’s good to everybody,” said grandson Jesse Lowman. “Makes everybody earn what they get; try to pass on the same lessons taught us, to my son.”
Whether it’s a family member or close family friend, it was hard for loved ones to talk about Lowman without tearing up.
“To me, the most important thing, other than being my father and being around, is his service to this country, and we are all very proud of that legacy,” said one of Lowman’s sons, Bruce Lowman.
Lowman may have already enjoyed a century on this earth, but he said there’s so much more he looks forward to.
“I like life. If I could live to be 150 healthy, I would like to do that,” Lowman said.