TOPEKA (KSNT) – Retired AirForce veteran Aaron Bura is 99 years old and full of plenty of life.

He went into the service when he was 19 years old and served 31 months in the South Pacific and remembers the less-than-ideal conditions.

“It was hot all the time, we’d build us a shack,” Bura said.

He flew bombing missions during WWII and says the military opened doors he never imagined possible.

“I was a radio operator, I was a camera man, and of course a gunner, everybody’s a gunner,” Bura said. “We got to see things in the world I’d probably never seen otherwise.”

He also saw firsthand the consequences of war, including losing friends on the battlefield.

“So they got into that storm and it just ripped their wings off and it killed the whole crew,” Bura said.

During his deployment, he had a few close calls during his time in the South Pacific, notably his 35th mission.

“We were bombing the little, we call them sugar dogs and sugar charlie’s and they are boats carrying out oil to the harbor to load on the ships,” Bura said. “And we were bombing them and they were really armed…so we were flying treetop level with the B-24 if you can imagine that.”

Several of Bura’s crew died that day, but he escaped with a gunshot wound.

“Then we got out of there and on the way home four fighters caught us and got our engine and me,” Bura said.

He was awarded a purple heart medal for his sacrifice that day. And despite the trauma he’s lived through, Bura’s still laughing at 99 years old and plans to keep on living life to the fullest.

After his service, Aaron married his late wife and had 3 kids. He’s kept busy in his later years giving back to the veteran community; he drove vets from Emporia to the Topeka VA, was the DAV State Commander, and also volunteered at a hospital in Emporia for 15 years.