Subject: THE MIRACLE B-17 BOMBER STORY FROM WWII
This is such a great story, I think it should be told to anyone who will listen. Then, even in combat there was honor - not like the Islamists we face today.
Look carefully at the B-17, note how shot up it is - one engine dead, tail, horizontal stabilizer &nose shot up. It was ready to fall out of the sky. Then realize that there is a German ME-109 fighter flying next to it. Now read the story below, you'll be surprised with the ending!
Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub' & was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak & fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.
After flying over an enemy airfield, a German pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to take off & shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail & rear section was severely damaged & the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage! . The nose was smashed, there were holes everywhere .
Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 & looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared, struggling to control his damaged & blood-stained plane.
Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted guiding the stricken plane to & slightly over, the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown, turned away, back to Europe .
When Franz landed he told the CO that the plane had been shot down over the sea, never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown & the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.
More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.
They met in
the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns
Research shows that Charlie Brown lived in Seattle & Franz Steigler had moved to Vancouver, BC after the war. When they finally met, they discovered they had lived less than 200 miles apart for the past 50 years!
True story: http://www.snopes.com/military/charliebrown.asp
I clicked over to snopes and found another link with more detail:
COPYRIGHT 1995 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service
MIAMI _ A few days ago, Charlie Brown marked the 52nd anniversary of the event that saved his life.