It was amazing to talk with a gentleman and his family who came to the media day of the tour stop. He was a radioman and I was mesmerized watching him climb back to his station and seeing his face transform as he touched things, telling us where they should have been and how they were used:
|My son at the radio station|
Mr. H was a top turret gunner on a mission headed over Germany when their plane was shot down. He was the first to have to bail out--having to go out the pilot's hatch in the front of the plane because the other exits were on fire. He tells the story about being trained to count to ten before pulling his parachute ripcord, "I was a little anxious, so I counted 2-4-6-8-10." He blacked out at high altitude and woke up in the tops of trees being cut down by local farmers. He was taken to the German officer in the village who looked him up by name in his intelligence file, and spoke excellent English having been educated in Chicago. Mr. H was sent by train to a Polish prison camp, and later marched 600 miles back through Germany at the end of the war. He was finally liberated by the RAF and came home to America via troop ship. His buddy told him he should ask for duty in the bakery on board ship--which he did--and arrived home having regained much of the weight he lost in captivity on that long march out of Poland.
The Greatest Generation is passing rapidly and we don't seem to be teaching much about their sacrifice anymore. I hope we can make a little time to appreciate that time in history. If you have any B-17 connections please share them with us!
Thanks for reading along today--more tomorrow!