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A Higher Calling

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posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 07:53 PM
I decided to put this in Aviation because it relates to an American B-17 and German Me109 in 1943. A truly amazing story.

On December 20, 1943 American B-17 pilot Charlie Brown (yes his real name), was one of the pilots of a B-17 on a bombing mission over Germany. The aircraft had been shot up badly, after having been attacked by no less than 15 German fighters, and of the crew, one was dead, six were wounded. The three unwounded crew members were tending to injuries in the fuselage, while 2nd Lt. Brown flew the aircraft. He had been knocked out during the attacks, and had woken up just in time to pull the plane out of a near fatal nose dive.

The bomber had one working engine, the tail turret was gone, most of the left stabilizer was gone, there was a hole all the way through the fuselage, as well as other damage. Lt. Brown was struggling to keep the plane flying, when one of the crew members came to tell him they had decided to stay, and assist with getting the wounded aircraft back to England.

Lt. Brown was staring past the crew member in horror, as there was now a German Me109 flying alongside the wounded B-17. Then the Messerschmidt moved over to the left side of the bomber, and the pilot began making exaggerated gestures, first toward the ground, then off into the distance.

The Me109 flew alongside the bomber, without firing a shot, until the top turret of the bomber turned towards it. Then the pilot of the Me109 looked Lt. Brown in the eye, saluted and flew off without firing a shot.

The Me109 pilot was Franz Stigler, a conscripted Luftwaffe pilot. He had been a commercial pilot, before joining the Luftwaffe as a fighter pilot. Before takeoff on his first mission, his commanding officer had a talk with him, and told him "Honor is everything here. If I ever see or hear of you firing at a man in a parachute, I'll shoot you down myself."

On the day of this incident, he was sitting in his aircraft refueling and rearming, when they heard a roar, and saw the B-17 go overhead. He immediately took off, and chased what was going to be his 23rd kill, and get him the Iron Cross.

Upon closing with the B-17, and lining his shot up, it occurred to him that he hadn't seen any twinkling from the tail, which would indicate that the tail guns were firing. He took a closer look, and saw the tail turret had been shot away. The tail gunner was still there, with his jacket covered in blood, and bloody icicles on the guns themselves. He went on to observe major damage to the tailplane, flew alongside, and could see into the fuselage, and see the crew struggling with the wounded. Upon flying up alongside the cockpit, he could see the nose had been shot away as well, and was stunned that the aircraft was still flying.

He thought about a woman that had been shot and killed for making a joke against the Nazi Party, and realized he could be executed for not destroying the bomber. He chose to listen to his commanding officer and do what was right.

As they neared the Atlantic Wall, antiaircraft gun crews were stunned to see an American and German plane flying in formation together. Franz Stigler pulled away before the crews could identify his plane, as at this point, Lt. Brown snapped out of his terror, and ordered the gunner to open fire.

The B-17 went on to land in England, and years later both men met, first through an ad in a pilot newsletter, then over the phone, and eventually in person. Both men died within six months of each other, and considered the other a brother for the events of that day.

The Full Story

posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 09:17 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

Interesting story Zaphod, thanks for bringing it.

I had never heard this one before. After letting it sink in a thought came to mind. Isn't itweird how some people survive war? Especially World War II. Even though it was shorter by comparison it was much wider in scope and intensity.

Some people train and train, then go to a beach landing for their first day in combat and fall off the landing craft ramp and drown, never seeing a shot fired in anger.

Then others like the crews in both these aircraft make it through numerous missions with a hundred close calls and even live to tell each other the tale and become close friends.

I wish I knew the why of both instances.

posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 09:38 PM
reply to post by intrptr

I've always wondered at that myself. It's so weird to read stories, and see how things like that can happen. The ones that everyone expects to survive, don't make it a week, and the goofball makes it all the way. There's no rhyme or reason to it.

One of the most amazing war stories I ever read was the story of Lance Peter Sijan, in Vietnam. He wasn't known as a warrior, being very quiet and soft spoken. He even joined other pilots and grew a mustache in protest of the war.

On the night of Nov 9, 1967, he was on his 52nd combat mission, as a Weapons System Officer (WSO or Guy In Back, GIB) on an F-4 Phantom II, being flown by Lt. Col. John Armstrong. The mission was to hit a karst that was a suspected truck park. As soon as Col Armstrong released their bombs, one of the weapons detonated directly under the aircraft. Lance Sijan was able to eject from the aircraft, and landed on the karst. A massive SAR effort was launched.

The effort took most of the day, and damaged 20 aircraft, including one shot down (the pilot was rescued by the same helicopters there to rescue Sijan). He refused to let them send down a PJ to carry him to the hoist, and after 33 minutes of hovering, the helicopter had to call of the rescue attempt. The next day, they tried again, but there was no contact with him.

Either during the ejection, or upon landing on the karst, he had suffered a skull fracture, compound fracture of the left leg, and mangled his right hand. When they told him they were calling off the rescue, he was crawling back to where he had hid, and fell into a sinkhole and was knocked unconscious.

When he came to, he came up with a plan to crawl to a field, radio for help, and let them land next to him and rescue him.

On Christmas Day 1967 (46 days later), after crawling down the karst, with no food, and whatever water he could scrounge, he fell unconscious across a road in front of a North Vietnamese truck. Later that night, in a temporary prison camp, he was able to lure his guard over to where he was laying, overpower him, and escape. He was captured a few hours later, and sent to the Hanoi Hilton.

During his time there, he was repeatedly tortured by his captors. He was cared for by a pair of F-100 Wild Weasel pilots, one of which knew him. They begged him to give a cover story, to tell them anything so they would stop torturing him (this included hammering on his leg and hand). He refused, saying it went against the Code of Honor that all POWs are supposed to follow. He died on Jan 22, 1968 refusing to give up any information to the end, and plotting escape with the other two pilots. He even was trying to do push ups to get in shape so he wouldn't slow them down.

He was posthumously promoted to Captain, and his parents received the Medal of Honor in his name.

posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 10:44 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

That dude was stubborn. Honor, duty... okaaaay

Lets not go there.

I did like the rest of the story. I got one closer to home.

My grand father was a card carrying member of the Nazi party in Germany during the second world war. He fought in WWI in the trenches and in WWII he was stationed in Poland. All kinds of mystery surround what he actually did there. My only source of information is my mother and all she keeps saying he was attached to civilian forestry there in some way.

I don't know. Thing is as the German lines collapsed he walked back to Germany with the rest of the retreating German army and civilians. He somehow fell behind and became trapped behind the lines. At a Russian roadblock the guards took him behind a building and made to execute him but he held up a picture of his family and they let him go. When he got back to his family in Coburg they had to cut his frozen boots off his frozen feet.

His house and a castle on a nearby hill were being readied to defend against Patton's 3rd Army. The German army painted a red cross on their roof, made the basement a communication station for the town and turned the bomb shelter in the back yard into an ammo dump. My mom told me that her father was away on local business but when he returned and saw an SS detachment digging fox holes in his yard he flew into a rage and demand they stop.

A black uniformed officer pulled a pistol and pointed it at my grandfathers head and threatened to kill him on the spot if he didn't shut up. My grandfather said something to the effect of, "I fought in two wars and survived, I am not afraid of you. The war is over, what are you going to do, defend Germany in my yard? My grandmother intervened by getting between them saying, "Don't mind him, he's just an old man."

One night not long after the war he died in a fender bender car wreck on a slippery road coming home with his friends from a bar. He wasn't driving. After all that, he died of a bump on the head. I never got to meet him and some of what I related is from best recollection by my mom and grandmother. I have heard the stories enough that I believe that she is not making it up or embellishing it as far as I know.

Strange world. A man survives both WWI and WWII on the losing side, walks home from behind enemy lines and then dies in a minor car wreck.

posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 10:53 PM
reply to post by intrptr

That's another one I don't get. How can someone go through all that, and something so minor takes them from us. It's important to me to get as many of these stories out as possible, through interviews, or even just spreading news articles about them. We've lost most of the WWII generation, and while people will always disagree about Vietnam, there are some incredible stories from there as well. And everyone forgets Korea. I don't want people to forget these people, no matter what your opinion is about where they fought, because they did so much, and went through so much. They deserve respect, and to have their stories heard.

During a parade at the end of Desert Storm, we reduced a group of motorcycle riding Vietnam vets to tears, just because as they came by we started to cheer for them. They made it a point to come over and shake our hands, and several of them gave us tokens they had carried with them since being over there. That tiny gesture meant so much to them, that since that day, I've tried to spread word of these stories no matter where they are from, or what side the people fought on.

posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 11:18 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

Wow thats really cool. Its very important to the generation of Nam vets to get that closure you gave them. You guys were welcomed home and they weren't. I was too young for Nam but I knew people that were there and I have a story about one of them too.

I used to live "outdoors" and spent a lot of time under hiway bridges along railroad tracks. There you meet people from all over the country who travel by rail and then stay for a while before moving on. A lot of them dudes are veterans not only of late but from Vietnam too.
One day I met up with a guy and he told me he was a veteran of that war and I shook his hand and said, "Thank you and welcome home". He broke down and cried for a spell and then thanked me cause no one "had told him that before".

I don't know why I did it, just heard somewhere thats a good thing to do for Vietnam era vets. It's true.

Soldiers are young and led to war by their country, then spit out on the down side and left to fend for themselves. They aren't responsible for the wars they fought in and were mostly thrust into it under false pretenses. Such a simple thing to restore some dignity.

posted on Dec, 12 2012 @ 07:04 PM
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