Finding a Fallen Hero: The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner

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An author’s quest to discover what really happened to his uncle in World War II

To all appearances, Anthony “Tony” Korkuc was just another casualty of World War II. A gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, Korkuc was lost on a bombing mission over Germany, and his family believed that his body had never been recovered. But when they learned in 1995 that Tony was actually buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his nephew Bob Korkuc set out on a seven-year quest to learn the true fate of an uncle he never knew.

Finding a Fallen Hero is a compelling story that blends a wartime drama with a primer on specialized research. Author Bob Korkuc initially set out to learn how his Uncle Tony came to rest at Arlington. In the process, he also unraveled the mystery of what occurred over the skies of Germany half a century ago.

Korkuc dug up military documents and private letters and interviewed people in both the United States and Germany. He tracked down surviving crewmembers and even found the brother of the Luftwaffe pilot who downed the B-17. Dozens of photographs help readers envision both Tony Korkuc’s fateful flight and his nephew’s dogged search for the truth.

A gripping chronicle of exhaustive research, Finding a Fallen Hero will strike a chord with any reader who has lost a family member to war. And it will inspire others to satisfy their own unanswered questions.

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What People Are Saying

Robert Korkuc has written a book that succeeds magnificently on two levels: as a relentless search for a loved one in World War II and as an intimate portrait of a bomber crew. The book grabs the reader from page one and never lets go.--Donald L. Miller, author of Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany

A riveting story of what must have been one of the most dangerous and vulnerable jobs in all of war. --Ken Burns

A moving, well-researched personal journey into the world that the author's uncle, a B-17 ball turret gunner, experienced in World War II. Anyone who wishes to understand the deep psychic effect that a soldier's death can have on so many people, during and after the war, should read this excellent book. --John C. McManus, author of Deadly Sky: The American Combat Airman in World War II

Korkuc illuminates the wide, interlocking circles of grief that every act of combat creates and the enduring wounds carried by those who fight our wars and those who love the fighters. --Gregory J. W. Urwin, author of Facing Fearful Odds: the Siege of Wake Island

Mr. Korkuc takes us on a seven-year quest to learn the fate of his uncle, one of the thousands of American airmen lost in the air war over Europe in World War II. Moving from one clue to another, Korkuc ultimately gains final resolution on how his uncle perished and achieves closure on a family tragedy. --W. Raymond Wood, author of Or Go Down in Flame: The Death of a Navigator over Schweinfurt
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806138923
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,163,160
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Korkuc is an electrical engineer who lives in Amherst, New Hampshire.

James M. McCaffrey is Professor of History at the University of Houston–Downtown and author of several books, including Inside the Spanish-American War: A History Based on First-Person Accounts.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   James M. McCaffrey     ix
Preface     xiii
Mourning a Hero     3
The Loss of a Flying Fortress     18
Revelations from Willmandingen     36
Flying Machines and Memories     55
On the Road to Find Out     74
Family Ties     94
With the Men of the 381st     118
The Ball's-Eye View     133
Twelve O'Clock High     147
The Eagle and the Swallow     165
The Earl King's Demand     191
Coming Full Circle     207
The Last Day of the Big Week     213
Notes     235
Bibliography     243
Web Resources     246
Index     249

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