Hometown Heroes - James “Buddy” McElvy

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:15 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:17 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A Sulphur man spent 21 years in the military helping to dispose of unused bombs. Early in his career in the U.S. Air Force, James “Buddy” McElvy served in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. While serving in the Korean war, McElvy took care of bombs that were never dropped over North Korea.

“Being bomb people, all we did was load bombs,” said McElvy. “When they came back in, if they hadn’t dropped them, we’d have to download them and put them away.”

As you can imagine, there’s an art to loading and unloading bombs. Buddy said they had a pretty good system.

“We’d jack up the nose of the airplane and then push the bomb, which was on a trailer under the airplane.. then carefully set the airplane over the bomb.”

Buddy’s son, Brad recalls a story when his dad had to bail out over North Korea.

“There was a mechanical malfunction with the aircraft,” said Brad. “They didn’t think it was going to make it to the base, so they had these guys bail out. I asked him if he was over enemy lines. He said he found a little hut to hide in and we could hear them talking.”

After Korea, McElvy served in several locations, including what was then known as the Lake Charles Air Base, where he met General Claire Chennault. He later retired from the offshore oil industry.

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