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Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Honored In Arizona On 100th Anniversary Of His Final Flight

F-35A Lightning II
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz/U.S. Air Force
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handout | agency
Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona.

In 1918, a man named Frank Luke Jr. was setting records as a fighter pilot in World War I.

The embellished stories told about Frank were incredible — but the truth was also something to admire.

The Phoenix native took down 14 enemy balloons. They called him the “Arizona Balloon Buster” — according to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

In his downtime, he gambled like many soldiers but poured his winnings into a collection plate at a nearby church on Sunday mornings.

Frank Luke Jr. was shot down over France on Sept. 29, 1918 — and later killed by enemy soldiers when he refused to surrender. He was 21.

He was the first aviator to receive the Medal of Honor and was honored in Arizona as the namesake of Luke Air Force Base in Glendale.

On Wednesday, the base is commemorating Lt. Luke’s final flight with a flyover and a flag presentation to his family.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.