NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The next time you think you’re too tired to go to the gym, think about the life led by Octavio Pragana.
His friends – and there are many friends of this 91-year-old – call him Tacky. Spoiler: He was named Octavio because he was the eighth child in his family.
“I get up everyday 5:00,” Pragana said. “I have a clock inside me that just goes off.”
And then the man who spent 29 years as a New Bedford police officer heads to the Ashley Street station where he served, and hits the gym.
He says lifting is his fountain of youth.
“Staying active, keeping your body in shape, because if you lose your legs. you don’t move,” he said between sets. “If you’re sitting down and not moving, something’s going to happen to you.”
Before the now rock-solid nonagenarian protected and served New Bedford, he served in the Navy in World War II and the Korean War.
At the tender age of 17, Japanese fighters took aim and hit his U.S.S. Canberra as it was cruising through the South Pacific.
“All of a sudden they go ba-boom, ba-boom, and we were already shooting again,” he recalled.
Twenty-three of his mates died.
“I didn’t think I was going to die, but we were waiting for help,” Pragana said.
Help came, and he eventually returned home from war.
Now, some 70 years later, he’s still riding his motorcycle, still shoots at the range with his police department brethren and still stays as active as that 17-year-old who went to war.
There are absolutely no signs he is slowing down anytime soon.
“I enjoy life. And all the police officers, their fathers and grandfathers, they’re good to me.”
Longevity is in Tacky’s family. His brother lived to be 99 and his sister was 97 when she passed away. Now, their little brother appears to have plenty of gas left in the tank.