KSLA Story By Marie Waxel, Anchor/Reporter
BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) –
There’s not a corner of the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Home World War II veteran Olan Wise hasn’t explored.
“I don’t hurt nowhere, the only thing wrong with me is from here up, my eyes, my voice is getting week, outside of that I’m fine,” said Wise, “I’ve never smoked, I’ve never drank, I’ve never cursed.”
Growing up in Alabama, Wise got his first job with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a cook.
“I told them I make biscuits until I run out of bricks, and they said what do you do with the bricks? and I said I put them on the biscuits to keep them from floating away (laughs).”
A few years later Wise decided to follow his older brother and join the Air Force.
“My brother was at Barksdale and I couldn’t get in the Air Force there. I went to Orange, Texas and going to get in there, I went to three or four places and I couldn’t get in the service because I had sinus trouble.”
With a little persistence, he got in, and like many others started his career in San Antonio, he then spent time in Utah before eventually getting orders for Guam during World War II.
“On our way over to Guam our ship was sideswiped, we run head on to another one I guess, and it sideswiped it and it took everything off of the side of the ship. We went on into the Guam and I stayed there the rest of my time, I don’t know how long that was.”
But there is one story he’ll never forget.
“It was warm there year-round, we were out there swimming carrying on you know, and I heard a couple of guys hollering ‘help, help’, I looked up and they had floated off into the ocean, so I said let’s go get that guy , they said no, no, no that’s dangerous water. So I went myself and I brought one of them in, but I couldn’t bring the other one in, he drowned. I saved that one guy. He was bleeding pretty bad because he been cut up on that coral rock ya know,” recalled Wise. “I was so shook up man, I don’t know who this guy was or where he was from, I wish I would’ve gotten all that information, but I didn’t. All I know is I saved him, and went back to my room and then it was just routine from there.”
Wise stayed in Guam until the war was over.
“The kitchen in the military is a good place to be because everybody every Tom, Dick and Harry comes in wants something.”
His hands spent nearly a decade feeding his fellow airmen. After his Air Force career, he traveled the country as an electrician.
“Wherever the work was, that’s where I went.”
His older brother then told him he could get him a job if he came to Bossier.
“I never was at Barksdale though, my brother was, he was taking me around and introducing me to a bunch of people you know and I saw this one girl over there, and I said I think that’s what I’m looking for. She was a good looking young lady, so we got to going together.”
The two went on to spend the next 72 years together, living in Benton.
“If I had my life to live over again, starting from that day we said I do, I wouldn’t change a thing. My life has been perfect. It’s been good since I’ve been here to this place.”
Olan Wise will turn 100 on Friday, a milestone he said is made possible by faith.
“I put my trust and faith in the saving grace of my Lord Savior Jesus and asked him to come and live within my heart and he has done that. I’ve been a Christian all my life,” explained Wise. “I’ve just lived a straightforward life and that’s what I recommend.”
A piece of advice, 100 years in the making.