John Lavra Webpage Title ImageJohn Lavra Webpage Title Image

Captain John Lavra, USN (Retired)Captain John Lavra, USN (Retired) Captain John Lavra always meets you with a handshake that would crush most men’s hands. Even at 96 years old his hand strength is still amazing!  The WWII, Korea, & Vietnam veteran is a naval aviator that served his country for 26 years before retiring in 1970.  Earlier this year I sat down with the Captain and as we talked about his career in the Navy I recorded the conversation.

The following 18 minute video is the story of him bailing out of a flaming Skyraider behind enemy lines on October 20th, 1952, his survival on the ground with severe injuries, rescue, and recovery. The images accompanying the video are from Captain Lavra’s personal collection throughout his Navy career but are not in any particular order. 

On a personal note, I’ve known “Captain John” all of my life. He is married to my Dad’s cousin, and I was always excited when my family drove down from Ohio to his old home outside of Virginia Beach to visit.  A visit to Captain John and Marolyn’s meant that we’d be fishing, visiting the beach, eating wonderful food prepared by Marolyn, and hearing amazing stories of flying in the Navy. And a highlight was always Captain John showing off his "bar tricks" (that I thought were magic tricks) after dinner!  Captain John and Marolyn moved away from the beach years ago to rural Virginia and are very dear people.  I am happy to be able to share this story as told by him.  ~ Jason

Below is an 18 minute video of Captain John Lavra telling the story of

being shot down behind enemy lines!


LTJG John Lavra, USN coming off the chopper after being rescuedLTJG John Lavra, USN coming off the chopper after being rescued


A rescued and bandaged LTJG John Lavra, USN.A rescued and bandaged LTJG John Lavra, USN.




Spads from the John Lavra CollectionSpads from the John Lavra Collection
John Lavra - Jason Lisle - Back Bay, Va - June 1981John Lavra - Jason Lisle - Back Bay, Va - June 1981




Jason and CPT John Lavra, USN (Retired) on 2-5-2023Jason and CPT John Lavra, USN (Retired) on 2-5-2023










John Lavra, Captain John Lavra, CPT John Lavra, Lavra, Skyraider, SPAD, Flying Dump Truck, AD1, AD4, Korea, Korean War, North Korea, Shot Down, Bailed Out, Shot Down Behind Enemy Lines, Enemy Lines, Veteran, Hero, Navy, Naval Aviator, Pilot, Douglas A-1 Skyraider, VA-55, USS Essex, Aircraft carrier, Helicopter, Rescue, AD-4 ,AD-3, AD-1, Able Dog, Survival, Corsair, Dam Buster, Dam Busting, October 20 1952, 1952, Ltjg John Lavra, lieutenant junior grade, Attack Plane, Fighter Plane, Story, guts, WWII Vet, Korean War Vet, Vietnam Vet