I've clipped this photo of a 306th crewman and a dog. My dad, August Winters, sent my mom a letter; May 10, '43. With this: "Remember Brownie our little dog. Well he is still with us. Coming over we lost him several times but he'd show up just before we took off. He rode the entire way across. He's really a good flyer. Here at the base he's a friend to everybody. He's sure a cute dog. We have more fun with him. He comes over to Operations every morning. Yesterday another dog started to come into our combat room, Brownie got real sore and chased the other dog right out of the room. Sure was funny to see Brownie stick up for us, he feels it's right to be mouthpiece to the 368th, and the 368th really loves the dog. He’s everybody's friend." Except apparently for other dogs... I've seen a few unnamed dog photos, but since this is a 306th dog, I'm adopting him as my official photo. Good dog!
Please follow this link to the completed article that was written by Roy Gottens from the Netherlands. SSMA is supporting the community of Beek in their development of a memorial to this crew. The dedication will take place in October 2017. During the next year educational initiatives with the schools will be developed. Thank you Roy
The Vanishing Generation
As America recognizes the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end, The Decatur Daily is honoring the surviving veterans in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties with a multimedia series titled “The Vanishing Generation.” Each week, veterans will tell their stories.
Go to decaturdaily.com to view Priceville's Benjamin Roberts describe the harrowing experience of being shot down while on a mission over Germany in a B17 bomber.
The nightmares, the sudden panics and the sweats still come. Seventy years hasn’t changed that. America and her allies won the war, but some of her warriors are still paying the price of victory.
Benjamin Roberts was falling from the sky. He was unconscious and his parachute was not open. Roberts was on his way to becoming the subject of a telegram informing his parents, “the War Department regrets to inform you … .”
Roberts was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber in the 305th Bomb Group, 8th U.S. Army Air Force, stationed in Chelveston, England. The day was Oct. 14, 1943, a day soon to be known as Black Thursday. The mission was to target a series of ball-bearing factories around Schweinfurt, Germany.
“We were late in forming up that day,” Roberts, 91, said from his home in Priceville. “When we got to the embarkation point where we would join the wing to cross the English Channel, the wing was already gone.”
That was the beginning of trouble for the 16 planes in the 305th.
“We made the turn, but when you try to turn 16 planes you are going a lot slower than the group flying away from you, so we never caught up,” Roberts said. “We crossed the Channel all by ourselves. That’s why we lost so many planes. When we crossed the Belgian border, the Luftwaffe came up and really took after us because we were 16 planes all by ourselves.”
The B-17s were flying without fighter escort. The P-51 Mustang, the first fighter with the ability to reach far into German territory, did not arrive until 1944. The B-17s depended on interlocking fields of fire from multiple Flying Fortresses, as the aircraft were known, for mutual defense. The fewer the planes in a formation, the more vulnerable they were.
Of the 16 planes in the 305th, one turned back with mechanical trouble, and two reached their target, dropped their bombs and returned to base. Thirteen aircraft carrying 130 men would never return. Overall, the 8th Army Air Force launched 291 B-17 bombers on the mission. Sixty were shot down and 639 men were killed or captured. Another 121 planes suffered damage, and 17 were so heavily damaged they would never fly again. Five of the 10 men in Roberts’ crew died that day.
A fighter strafed Roberts’ B-17 and took out a couple of their engines. The plane entered a shallow dive and he knew they were going down.
“The problem was, I couldn’t wear a harness or a chute and fit into the ball turret,” said Roberts, who was above the average size for a ball turret gunner.
He could not exit the ball turret until a crew member cranked the ball back up inside the aircraft. One of the waist gunners did him the courtesy and helped him into his chute and harness. That man would not survive. In their haste, the men failed to properly secure the harness.
“I was really calm in that ball turret until I was wondering if anyone was going to crank me out,” Roberts said.
“The waist gunner and I were trying to put my chest pack and harness on and we were getting strafed again (by a German ME 109 fighter),” Roberts said. “It threw me toward the radio room and him toward the tail. Then the wings came off and we were just falling around and around like a feather.”
He made his way to a door and leaped from the plane, only to be hit in the head and knocked unconscious by the tail of the plane as the fuselage spun in a circle. Roberts estimates the plane was at about 9,000 feet when he jumped.
“I dropped unconscious for thousands of feet,” he said. “When I came to and pulled the ripcord, the chute opened and I went down and the chute went up and I thought my arms were going to come out.”
The harness had not been clipped fully and had almost come completely off. Roberts had just enough time to swing his feet underneath before he smacked the ground. The chute had slowed his descent enough to keep him alive. He would not find out he had broken a vertebrae in his back until a protocol exam done in 2000 at a VA hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, revealed the problem.
He was taken prisoner by the Germans and sent to Frankfurt for interrogation, then onto the notorious Stalag 17B. The first two weeks were hellish.
“That was the worst part of being a prisoner, those first two weeks when you were being interrogated. They were domineering and very, very threatening,” Roberts said.
The Germans wanted information on a new radar deception technique where a lead plane would dump aluminum chaff into the sky. His plane carried none.
“They assumed we knew, so they did a lot of threats like, ‘We think you are a spy. We are going to put you up for a firing squad,’ ” Roberts said. “When they got through interrogating you and sent you back to your room, I was only 19 at the time and I would cry sometimes. It was very scary.”
Roberts would not be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome until the protocol exam done in 2000. His first symptoms surfaced around 1952. There was no expertise in psychological injury and not much in the way of psychological treatment for World War II veterans.
“The condition known as PTSD today was called shell shock or combat fatigue in World War II,” said Dr. Richard Powers, clinical director for the PTSD Unit at the VA Medical Center in Birmingham. “The condition was not well studied in World War II like it is today. The understanding of the brain is better today, and there have been major advances in psychiatry in the last 30 years. No one knew what PTSD was when these guys came out of World War II and there were not enough mental health providers at the time to help them.”
“PTSD happens when you put normal people in abnormal situations, like combat,” Powers said. “In order to survive, they have to learn specific responses and reflexes or they might get killed, or worse still, a friend might get killed.”
For Roberts, the problem was controlled by a pill given him by his first doctor. His condition improved and he thought he had regained a normal life.
“By about 1960, I was in pretty good shape and it wasn’t affecting me very much,” Roberts said. “Then my first wife, Bonnie, passed away and it started to come back. I don’t know if it was the trauma of losing my wife or what, but it got bad and, I swear, I just couldn’t function.”
Another doctor stepped in and prescribed another medicine for anxiety, which Roberts said helped him. His trauma did not stop, but he married two more times, outliving both his second wife, Joyce, and his third wife, Alice, who passed away last November.
“I still have those problems,” Roberts said. “The pill does an awful good job, but sometimes it doesn’t work and I get so anxious I might even go to Decatur (Morgan Hospital) in an ambulance thinking I am dying, but so far I have handled it.”
Powers said he has taken care of many World War II veterans.
“The guys I have talked to say the toughest job on the airplane was being the ball turret gunner. He was just hanging out there with everyone shooting at him. Mr. Roberts is a man with great courage,” Powers said.
After the war, Roberts re-entered a co-op program with Buick in his native Flint, Michigan. He became an engineer and was eventually moved to the Saginaw division. He was transferred to Decatur in 1974 to work at the Saginaw factory. After 40 years with General Motors, he retired and began a career selling machinery around the South. He finally ended his career with a two-year stint as the owner of his own company.
Roberts is the last survivor of his B-17 crew.
Gary Cosby can be reached at 256-340-2374 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, October 18 was a very special day at the 384th BG reunion in Dayton. Brig. Gen. McLaughlin was there to pay tribute to Lt. Col. Budd Peaslee and share his thoughts on Col. Peaslee's career. It was a wonderful meeting with members of the Peaslee family, who are now all "officially" part of our SSMA family. From left to right: grand-daughters Debbie and Monique, General McLaughlin, son Richard who also spoke to honor his father, grand-daughters Caroline and Kari, daughter Michelle.
In his comments
General McLaughlin said "Col.
Budd Peaslee was my WWII
The Peaslee family was
presented with a wooden box
hand-crafted by 384th BG
member Keith Ellefson
Inside the lid were the words of Peaslee's famous "Heritage of Valor .....
.... which grand-daughter
Debbie somehow managed to
Once again the family of John Gell has placed a remembrance for SSMA at Madingly.
For those new members here, B-17 "Cat o'Nine Tails" of the 303rd BG crashed in the garden of the Gell family upon return to England 14 October 1943. All crew survived.
There is no doubt in our mind that Thomas will one day take over this task. Thank you for taking him each and every year and keeping our story alive in his heart.
It is with sadness and a heavy heart that we report that our dear, sweet Jay folded his wings on December 21, 2014. Always Pete and Jay together with Michelle close by. Pete piloted the 94th BG A/c that went down during the Schweinfurt mission. Jay loved to tell the story that he landed in a pigpen. From that pigpen to Stalag Luft III where he was a "penguin", to Wharton School of Business, to hospital administrator. And oh the stories he could tell. At our reunion in Se...ptember he closed down the hospitality room telling stories, even some that Michelle had never heard before. Our thoughts are with Michelle and the family. Jay had recently moved from Lexington to Richmond to be closer Michelle. A memorial service at a date to be determined will be held in Lexington KY and Jay's funeral will be at Arlington National Cemetery. More details as we receive them. Please share you favorite Jay story and photos.
Gen. McLaughlin at our memorial at the National Museum of the Eighth Air Force in Pooler, GA (2013 reunion)
ONLY BY THE GRACE OF DIVINE SELECTION OR SOME OTHER UNKNOWN AND UNFATHOMABLE STROKE OF FORTUNE WE WERE PRESERVED TO ESTABLISH THIS MEMORIAL AT THIS SITE FOR THE FALLEN HEROES OF THE NATION. IN OUR OWN MEMORIES ARE IMPRINTED THE UNFORGETABLE SIGHTS WE SAW AND FELT THE INDESCRIBABLE TERROR AS WE WATCHED THE HOLOCAUST UNROLL BEFORE US.
IT IS THESE FEELINGS THAT HAVE INSPIRED US TO ESTABLISH IN INDESTRUCTIBLE STONE AND METAL MEMORY OF THE VALIANT YOUNG MEN OF YESTERYEAR. (Col. Budd Peaslee portion of dedication address of the Second Schweinfurt Memorial tree and marker at Arlington National Cemetery)
Lt. Col Budd Peaslee, Mission 115 Commander, 384th BG)
From the Top Turret is a true story of courage, faith, family and commitment. It takes readers on Gerard Caporaso's tumultuous journey from training in the U.S. Eighth Air Force during World War II to the moment when his plane crash landed in a field outside Thiacourt, France during the second invasion on Schweinfurt and his survival as a prisoner of war. Only a prison camp full of ingenious engineers could find so many uses for the contents of a Red Cross parcel. This is Gerard’s personal story of triumphant survival and returning home to build the American dream. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615696325/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
I would like to hear from any SSMA member who has either visited the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force or used features that are available on or through its homepage. I am planning a visit to Savannah, would like to make the most out of a visit to the Museum and hope some of your commentaries/suggestions might help. In advance, thanks.
Standing at the Second Schweinfurt Memorial on October 14, 2013 for the service, hearing the letter from SSMA President Bud Klint and a wonderful sermon of our protestant minister, Dieter Schorn, I decided to turn in my application for membership to the SSMA eventually. It would be a great honor for me to be given membership of this wonderful means of peacekeeping among peoples and I am sure my dad, the late Christian Kämpf, will be proud and happy too.
BOURNE — Col. Walter L. Bzibziak, 92, passed away Sept. 2, 2012, at Bourne Manor Extended Care Facility.
He was born in Buffalo, N.Y., to Leo and Mary (Govern) Bzibziak on May 13, 1920.
He graduated from Hutchinson Central Technical High School in Buffalo and worked for the telephone company, before enlisting in the Army Air Corps on March 12, 1942. As a pilot, he flew B-17s over Europe during World War II. His service career took him through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. During the course of his career he flew many aircraft, but his favorite was the B-17. During the 2nd Schweinfurt Mission, Oct. 14, 1943, Black Thursday, the famous air battle had 219 bomber planes going up, with 77 lost and 121 damaged. Walter's plane sustained 302 holes. He was stationed at Otis Air Force Base in 1955, where he served until his retirement. Other postings include Greenland, Seattle, and the Philippines.
He never considered himself a hero — just a survivor. His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal 3 Oak Clusters, Presidential Citation 4 Oak Clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon, American Campaign Medal, Europe/Africa/Middle East Campaign Medal, World War II Medal, Army of Occupation Medal-Germany, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Air Force Reserve Medal- Bronze, and the Presidential Unit Citation. He retired from Otis Air Force Base on June 30, 1970.
Upon retirement, Walter went to work as the superintendent, managing the Forbes' Nuachon Island Trust, and retired after five years. In 2000, Walter attended the West Haven VA, Connecticut computer school for the blind, where he learned new life skills which opened up a whole new world for him to meet and keep in touch with friends.
He was active with the Ham Radio Club of Falmouth, the Knights of Columbus, the Blinded Veterans Association in Boston and Providence, the 379th Bomb Group, and the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association. The SSMA meets once a year to commemorate the air battle and now has members from both side of the conflict, Americans and Germans, who were as young as 14 at the time. The Germans have hosted the reunion several times, the first after 9/11/01, when Walter, then blind, traveled to the reunion by himself, quite a feat for a "blind guy." He was active for many years with the Falmouth Road Race and the Barnstable County Fair.
He is survived by his present wife, Constance Bzibziak; son Guy Bzibziak of Everett; stepchildren Robert and Marjorie Campbell of Pocasset; and nephews Lesley Kuhn of Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Robert Ciepiela of Buffalo.
He was predeceased by his wife Dorothy, stepson David Vincent, sisters Mary Ciepiela and Anne Marie Bzibziak of Buffalo, and nephew Gerald Ciepiela of Buffalo.
The family wishes to thank the staff at the Bourne Manor and Hospice and Palliative Care of Cape Cod for their compassionate care and kindness during his last days with us.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in St. Joseph's Church, 33 Mill Field St., Woods Hole, MA 02543; 508-548-0990.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations made in his name to the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, 13 Wicklow Court, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648, attn: Dick Fox.
For online guest book and directions, www.ccgfuneralhome.com.
happy new year from england,best wishes julie pendered and family and the gell family of riseley bedfordshire xx
This is my first post, so please don't be too tough on me. My uncle, T/Sgt Vaughn E. Bowers was KIA 14 Oct 1943. He was the Right Waist Gunner (RWG) aboard the subject aircraft. I have been able to confirm the final resting places of the crew members, except James Giebel. of Pennsboro, WV. If anyone can help, please advise. Also, I have been able to discover that 654 was shot down by Leutnant Hans Reuter of 9/III./JG11, flying a Bf-109G-6 ( with a WGr21 unguided rocket. This was Ltn. Reuter's only recorded victory. Reuter was forced to bail out at least twice during the War, first from a Bf109G-6 (Serial No. 15613, ST+QP), in combat with a P-51 over Ornbeck at 1045 7/28/1943, after taking off from Oldenburg to intercept B-17's. He staid with his plane until he was over a more sparsely populated area before bailing. Nevertheless his plane crashed directly into a family residence and catapulted over the house into an adjacent farm field. The inhabitants of the house had gone to the basement for shelter from the American air raid, except for the grandmother, who was on the first floor. Miraculously, she was unhurt. Hans Reuter came down nearby in his pararchute, only slightly injured. Reuter had to bail out again on 10/22/1944. This time from a Focke-Wulf FW-190A-8 (Serial No. 960213), "Blue 9", due to an engine failure. He was seriously injured and rushed to a field hospital (Reserve-Lazarett) in Salzwedel. The incident occurred at 0935 in Nierensen, 4KM east of Markt-Friedland. I have been unable to learn whether Ltn. Hans Reuter survived the War. The last surviving member of the 654 crew was Raphael Conrad Simeroth, the tail gunner I made contact with him just before his death in 2008. The best story I came across during my research, came from Viktor Jagodics, an SSMA member in Germany. Viktor is a wonderful resource and tireless historical researcher. The story is of the local farm lady who lived near Bischbrunn, where 654 was shot down. As the SS were rounding up the survivors of the two B-17's shot down in the immediate area, the woman, who was working in the field, witnessed the abuse and inhumane treatment of the men, some of whom were injured and/or in shock. She lit into the SS men with her hay rake, berating them and telling them that her son was a POW in America and was being treated well. Sorta gives you some hope for this troubled world in which we live. Wouldn't it be great to be able to find the descendants of that lady and say,"Thank you". Thanks for that story Viktor. It was worth all the work.
Please follow the link below to read a report on Black Thursday. It was written in German and translated into English by the author Werner Eich. Werner is one of our German members. Thanks for sharing Werner.
SSMA Mission 2012
Greetings to members of the SSMA:
It is with great pleasure that I relay the information to you from our recent meeting in New Orleans. We have lots of GREAT news, so let me first present the news:
We had a GREAT meeting with the Directors and Historian of National WWII Museum
They told us the Second Schweinfurt Mission will be one of the few featured missions in the museum’s new Boeing Center. It will showcase artifacts of the war, representing America’s legendary production of airplanes, artillery, tanks and other equipment that helped to fuel Allied victory in World War II. Exhibited artifacts will include a Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress,” an SBD Dauntless, a B-25 fuselage and the TBM Avenger.
This wing opens 11/11/2012.
Then after the SSMA board presented to them, they are strongly considering adding the story of the reconciliation between former enemies – now “Friends by Choice” in a separate area of the museum and more about our airmen in the POW section of the museum.
The SSMA has voted to have our 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans to correspond with the dedication and opening of the new wing and exhibits - More information will be coming in the next BL.
I hope you agree, exciting news for the SSMA!
Now here is an opportunity for each of you and your families. The National WWII Museum is looking for individual pictures, crew photos, photos of events, artifacts, shrapnel, manuals, flight books, gear, uniforms, medals, etc that would depict the life of our serviceman while they served. They are looking for POW information, keepsakes, telegrams, Red Cross packages, letters, notes, and escape maps, etc.
In the new museum, they will use “Dog Tags” with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device). This will let visitors attach (if they choose) their email address to the “Dog Tag”. The visitor will also be able to select a random serviceman – might be Air Force, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, etc or they can select a certain position, like a Submarine captain or Ball Turret gunner or a specific man to follow through the museum. The visitor could swipe the card on any display and have a link emailed to their email address that would give them more in-depth information. The museum is focused on the men and women of the war. They want visitors to relate and get a real glimpse and feel of what those individual people experienced. They also want there to be a way to dig down into more data and information. The connection to the visitor’s email address and the museum’s archives will be really strong.
So here is another opportunity. If you would like to package up your serviceman’s information, collectables and submit them as a whole experience, the museum will look at those and consider including them in whole or part. If in whole, maybe people can follow him through his WWII experiences from enlistment to retirement and possibly his role in the reconciliation.
The National World War II Museum opened in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and has been designated by Congress as the country's official National WWII Museum.
What an opportunity to make a lasting impression and place of education to hundreds of thousands of people. This is an opportunity to memorialize the service men and women that served our country so well and so proudly. Please consider how you would like to participate, what you would like to contribute and how the SSMA can best be represented in the displays of the museum. We have an awesome story…help us tell it the best we can.
Here are action items:
Please consider the opportunity and how you and your family can help tell the great story
Consider looking in the garage, attic, basement, closet for those things about your serviceman and decide what you would like to contribute – pieces or a complete story. Remember, a photo or document that will turn to shards or dust unless it is preserved professionally, which the museum will do, then it will last for eternity!
Consider joining the museum and supporting them with your financial donations directly or through the SSMA. Send you contributions to our treasurer - Dick Fox - 13 Wicklow Court, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648 and mark them for National WWII museum. We will donate all collected contributions to the museum in the name of the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association.
Plan on joining us for the SSMA reunion in 2012 in New Orleans. It will be over the Veterans Day weekend and we will be at the dedication and opening of the Boeing wing.
Think about the lasting memorial we can make and the education you can help with at this amazing museum. It is truly one of the best museums in the country today and with the expansion in progress, it is a real tribute to our National History and all those affected by WWII.
So there it is…GREAT news and a number of great opportunities. But now is the time for action. The new wing of the museum opens in 13 months! We need you to take action and decide how you want to participate. So please consider that now and make a pledge to you, your family and your serviceman. Let us know how you can help, what you want to do by checking the items you want to do and returning this to us via mail to: SSMA - 336 West Rolling Hills Drive, Conroe, Texas 77304 or via email to Julee MacDonald at email@example.com :
______ I want to know more. Keep me informed by mailing information to me
______ I have items I want to contribute. Tell me how
______ I want to attend the reunion. Let me know the details
______ I want to bring more people to the reunion. Send information to my friend:
______ I am going to send money to help the museum
Thank you in advance for all your help and support. Your board and the members that met in New Orleans believe this is an awesome opportunity to make a lasting impression, deliver great education and experience on those that served us so well. It provides a quality place to leave the SSMA story of service, strength, gratitude and reconciliation for generations to see. I hope you join me in this new “SSMA Mission 2012” and help make the contribution from the SSMA powerful and meaningful to all.
God Bless you and God Bless America,
Casting Call - WWII Veterans
Collings Foundation pitching a TV Series
Some of you might remember mention of our film project titled: The Last Liberator. We had submitted the project to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a Media Makers grant. We were hoping for a little financial support to get the film project underway. Knowing that the NEH had awarded sizable grants to films that featured subjects like Annie Oakley or $250,000 to the preservation, arrangement, and description of 400 linear feet of records and the digitization of selected photographs pertaining to the Minnequa Steel Works ….we felt our chances were pretty good. Surprisingly, we found out (in a roundabout way) that the proposal was denied NEH financial support.
Well, dagnabbit, we are moving forward! The Collings Foundation is in the process of pitching The Last Liberator as part of a larger series to a couple major TV networks. We are looking for B-24 and B-17 crewmembers to participate in a series of interviews. Are you a WWII Liberator Veteran or do you know one that would make a great interview? Let us know! Please send a short biography and picture to Hunter Chaney at firstname.lastname@example.org.Hope to pitch this in June. If you are interested please send a brief email as soon as you can. ______________________________
At 1012 hours, on October 14, 1943, in weather so foul that takeoff and ascent was by instruments only, the 8th Army Air Force, also known as the Mighty 8th, dispatched the first of 383 heavy bombers bound for the town of Schweinfurt Germany, 460 miles distant. Since fifty seven percent of all bearings used by Germany were made in this city, it was at the top of the list of strategic targets for the allied forces and had already received a first ruinous attack on August 17, 1943.
After failures to rendezvous and many bombers forced to abort the mission, 291 B-17s crossed the English Channel, making landfall at Walcheren Island, Netherlands and entering German-controlled airspace over the continent. Some of the bombers were initially protected by friendly fighter escort which, low on fuel, were forced to turn back about half way to the target, near Aachen. The bomber stream was immediately set upon by Luftwaffe fighter aircraft which engaged in attacks all the way to the target. An estimated 1,100 fighter and other Luftwaffe aircraft participated in the attacks, most making multiple passes and many landing, refueling and rearming to rejoin the battle. After passing the IP (Initial Point) at Wurzburg only 228 B-17s remained to drop bombs on Schweinfurt. Over the target six hundred (mostly 88mm) FLAK guns on the ground around Schweinfurt manned by Luftwaffen Flakhelfers (LWH) or Flak Helpers put up a blistering flak barrage. Unlike previous missions, the Luftwaffe fighters did not disengage over the target, but flew through the tremendous flak barrage, making almost suicidal attacks on the bombers. After bombs away the vicious attacks by Luftwaffe fighters and other aircraft resumed and continued, disengaging deep into France or, in some instances, not until the bombers reached the English Channel on the return flight to England.
The battle brought great losses to both sides. Sixty B-17s were lost to flak and fighters, and with ten man crews, 600 air crewmen went missing. Some (an estimated 120) lost their lives in the burning, badly damaged, crashed planes. Most became prisoners of war. Five additional B-17s were lost in England on return. Seventeen additional aircraft were so damaged they could never fly again. On the ground in Schweinfurt, 276 people died and countless more were injured. Hundreds had to be freed from shelters, having been trapped by fallen debris. Businesses and homes were razed. Valuable and treasured possessions were destroyed. Consequently, October 14, 1943 - Mission 115, became known as "Black Thursday" in American military history and one of the greatest air battles of World War II.
Thirty years later some of the survivors from the Mighty 8th, including Colonel Budd Peaslee, S/Sgt. Phillip Taylor and 1st Lt. William Allen decided to form an organization to commemorate their fallen comrades-in-arms. They called it the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, Inc. (SSMA), giving it direct connection to the second air raid on Schweinfurt.
Initially, the full members of this association were all veterans of the 8th Air Force who flew on Mission 115. Every year the members, and their families and friends, meet in a different city in the United States around the 14th of October to honor their dead fellow airmen.
But there is more to this story: At the 50th Anniversary, two Germans, Dr. Helmut Katzenberger and Vomar Wilckens came to the reunion in New Orleans to present to the group information they had on that fateful day. Then in 1996, the SSMA members invited more of their former enemies, including Georg Schaefer, whose grandfather founded one of the "targeted" ball bearing factories, to attend their reunion in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Schaefer, now retired from the Board of Directors of FAG Kugelfischer, had served, along with his classmates, in one of the 88mm Flakbatteries around Schweinfurt. He brought many artifacts from "Black Thursday". Many of these artifacts are permanently included in the Second Schweinfurt display at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.
It was at this reunion that the Americans suggested erecting a joint memorial remembering this mission. Mr. Schaefer presented this idea to his fellow Luftwaffenhelfers, who embraced the idea and on June 16, 1998 a German American Memorial was dedicated on a site alongside the former “Spitalsee” air raid shelter in Schweinfurt. The memorial was created by G. Hubert Neidhard (3/3/28 - 5/14/99), who was an art teacher at Alexander von Humboldt High School in Schweinfurt and a flak-helper in his hometown during the war.
This started the amicable meetings between members of the SSMA and the former flak helpers. In 1999, a group of former flak helpers, accompanied by Gudrun Grieser, Lord Mayor of the City of Schweinfurt, attended the reunion in Savannah, Georgia. Reno, Nevada was the site of the 2000 Reunion. In 2001, SSMA decided to hold their reunion in Schweinfurt, the first time the organization had held their meeting outside of the U.S. Sixty two participants from the U.S. attended despite the disastrous events in New York and Washington on September 11. Fort Worth was the site of the 2002 Reunion. Seattle - 2003 and in 2004, the members will return to Schweinfurt.
The bonding between former enemies is an impressive sign of active reconciliation, but also an admonition to future generations to do all they can so that horrors like those in the 20th century are never repeated. The inscription on the German American Memorial speaks to the bond between these two groups: "Dedicated by some who witnessed the tragedy of war, now united in friendship and the hope for lasting peace among all people".
For those of you that attend our reunions look very closely at Rosie on the right. I bet you can guess who it is!!!!! Yep, she still looks the same. Mom worked as a dental hygienist before the war and knew Dad in that capacity as there was only one dentist in the area where they grew up. Soon though, her dentist enlisted and she was without a job. First she and a friend went to Maryland to work in a munitions factory. When she came home to visit with orange hair rather than her coal black tresses my Grandfather did not permit her to return. Then she heard from a friend (Dora in the photo) who was working in Pittsburgh who asked her to come out there to work. She worked on LSTs for Dravo Corp. http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=978. She bought her nylons on the black market and hitched a ride to work with "Some old men in the neighborhood" They were in their 40's!
After Dad was wounded he first spent some months in the hospital in Oxford and then was transported home via a hospital ship in the middle of a convoy. In the states he was first in a hospital in Framingham, Mass until they could determine the VA hospital closest to home. That ended up being the DeShong VA hospital in Butler, PA. which is about 30 miles north of PIttsburgh. All the people from "home" who were working in Pittsburgh at the time decided they should go visit "Kenny" and now you know the rest of the story. Dad was still pretty much immobile. He had been placed in a full body cast in order to enable his leg to heal. (I'll save the details of how they "cleaned" his wound for another day, yuck) Minnie was soon helping Kenny make leather wallets in physical therapy.
The Rosie character was associated with Rose Will Monroe who worked at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Yipsilanti, Michigan. The factory now houses a museum. The factory was built by the Ford family to build B-24 and B-29 bombers. It is next to the airfield that hosts the Thunder Over Michigan airshow.
Thanks to Mom and all the Rosies
Für diejenigen von Ihnen, dass unsere Teilnahme an Versammlungen ganz genau hinschauen um Rosie auf der rechten Seite. Ich wette, Sie können erraten, wer es ist !!!!! Yep, sie sieht immer noch die gleichen. Mama arbeitete als Dentalhygienikerin vor dem Krieg und wusste Papa in dieser Eigenschaft als es nur einen Zahnarzt in der Gegend, wo sie aufgewachsen ist. Bald aber angeworben ihrem Zahnarzt und sie war ohne Arbeit. Zuerst hat sie und ein Freund ging nach Maryland in einer Munitionsfabrik arbeiten. Als sie nach Hause kam, um mit orangenen Haaren anstatt ihre pechschwarzen Locken Besuch meines Großvaters nicht ihr erlauben, zurückzukehren. Dann hörte sie von einem Freund (Dora im Bild), der in Pittsburgh tätig war, der fragte sie, zu kommen dort zu arbeiten. http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=978.">Sie arbeitete an LSTS für Dravo Corp http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=978. Sie kaufte ihre Nylons auf dem Schwarzen Markt und fuhr per Anhalter, um mit "Einige alte Männer in der Nachbarschaft" arbeiten Sie waren in ihrem 40's!
Nach Dad verwundet wurde er zunächst für einige Monate im Krankenhaus in Oxford und wurde dann nach Hause transportiert über ein Lazarettschiff in der Mitte eines Konvois. In den Staaten war er zunächst in einem Krankenhaus in Framingham, Mass, bis sie die VA Krankenhaus am nächsten nach Hause bestimmen könnte. Das endete als die DeShong VA Krankenhaus in Butler, Pennsylvania. was etwa 30 Meilen nördlich von Pittsburgh. Alle Leute von "Zuhause", die in Pittsburgh arbeitet zur Zeit beschlossen wurden sie besuchen "Kenny" gehen und jetzt wissen Sie, der Rest der Geschichte. Papa war immer noch ziemlich unbeweglich. Er hatte in einem vollen Körper gegossen gelegt, um sein Bein zu ermöglichen, zu heilen. (Ich rette die Details, wie sie "gereinigt" seine Wunde für einen weiteren Tag, igitt) Minnie war bald helfen Kenny machen Geldbörsen in der physikalischen Therapie.
The Rosie Charakter wurde mit Rose Will Monroe, die an der Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Yipsilanti, Michigan arbeitete verbunden. Die Fabrik beherbergt heute ein Museum. Die Fabrik wurde von der Ford-Familie zu B-24 und B-29 Bomber bauen gebaut. Es ist neben dem Flugplatz, dass die Thunder Over Michigan Airshow Gastgeber.
Dank Mama und alle Rosies
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