BEDFORD, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Decades after World War II, 97 year old James Lee Hutchinson looks fondly on a keepsake from his missions on a B-17. It’s an armor-plated New Testament that many mothers sent to their sons. He wore his over his heart as he flew missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.

Hutchinson was a radio operator for lead planes in the 490th bomb group. Amazingly he flew on 20 missions before he was 20 years old. It was dangerous and frightening.

“Like all teenagers, we thought it would happen to somebody else and not to us, but we were scared, we knew what the odds were, we’d eat breakfast with guys that wouldn’t come back that night, I always prayed,” said Hutchinson.

The prayers were answered and Hutchinson came home and found love. He was married to Norma June for many years and they raised two daughters.

When one has death frequently, like Hutchinson, peace becomes very important. So, he went to Indiana University and became an elementary teacher, and eventually a principal. It was a job that he truly enjoyed.

“I think underneath I have always had the confidence my goal has always been to be comfortable, never wanted to be rich, I wanted to stay in education and I wanted to be comfortable and retire and have my golf clubs and horses and that’s what I did,” said Hutchinson.

Not long after retirement, he suffered a heart attack in 2000. That’s when his second job of sorts began. He said he took care of his health and kept his mind busy by writing books about World War II.

“I enjoy writing I enjoy being creative I enjoy telling stories,” Hutchinson said.

He’s written six books about World War II. For material, he’s interviewed over 200 veterans and their families. His first book “Through These Eyes” features him as a 19 year old on the cover.

Decades have passed but he still looks sharp in his bomber jacket and aviator glasses. And that armor-plated bible, I guess one could say, it definitely did its job.

“We know it works, I’m here,” said Hutchinson.

If you’re interested in his six books about World War II and two other books about growing up in the depression, you can visit Amazon Books and search for James Lee Hutchinson. Oh, he’s also working on another book, which he hopes to finish in the near future.

You can also reach him through email.