PRAGUE (AP) — Emil Bocek, the last living Czech pilot who fought the Nazis while serving with Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II, has died at age 100.
A community center for war veterans in the Czech Republic city of Brno, his hometown, said Bocek died on Saturday. The Czech Defense Ministry confirmed his death. No further details were given.
“General Bocek was fighting for our country to be democratic, free and independent,” Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.
Born Feb 25, 1923, Bocek fled Czechoslovakia in 1939 at age 16 following the country’s occupation by Germany.
He fought the Nazis in France and then moved to Britain, where he served as a technician in the air force’s No. 312 Squadron before joining the RAF’s No. 310 Squadron as a pilot in 1944. Both fighter squadrons had Czechoslovak pilots.
“A Spitfire … it was a carriage,” Bocek told Czech public radio about the iconic British combat aircraft in 2016. “An unbelievable plane, a perfect plane.”
Bocek made 26 operational flights. He received several decorations in both his homeland and in Britain. from the Czech and British governments.
Britain’s King Charles III was among those who congratulated him on his 100th birthday last month.