25 June 1943 MIA The Search for Miss Deal and The Early Raiders on The Reichby Tony Crawford
The missions to bomb the German industrial targets were dreaded by the crews. After only a few missions there were more
The stories in this book reflect the dedication of the B-17 crews fighting a losing battle in 1943 and early 1944. The politicians and military leaders soon realized that to gain air superiority it would simply be a battle of attrition.
The missions to bomb the German industrial targets were dreaded by the crews. After only a few missions there were more replacement crews than original flyers on base. It was obvious to all the flyers that they were not going to make their twenty-five missions and get a free ticket home.
Unknown to the rookie crews were thousands of flak guns awaiting the B-17s march into German airspace. There they would also face the deadly German fighter Gruppes intent on destroying any enemy airplane flying over the Fatherland.
The Focke Wulfe and Messerschmitt fighters were piloted by scores and scores of aces. The young Germans who mentored the experienced pilots were extremely aggressive, desiring a victory over a B-17.
The unfortunate crewmembers of a B-17 were those who were hit by flak or their bomb load was struck by flak. Additionally, there was always the possibility of being hit by the exploding shells from an attacking fighter.
After bailing out of a burning Fortress the lucky flyers made it to prison camp to spend the rest of the war trying to survive on the meager rations their captors provided.
In 1999 a search for two MIA B-17 crewmembers was initiated. The search uncovered a number of lost Flying Fortresses and crews that were shot down doggedly fighting to deliver their bomb loads. Meeting relatives of the lost flyers was motivation to continue the search for my Uncle and his pilot. Fortunately, personal interviews, old documents, and letters, along with directions from WWII researchers led to the location of the crash site.
Writing of dozens of letters to politicians and the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) led to a promise by the Department of Defense to lift the wreck and return the flyer's remains to their families.
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