Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth

Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth

by Steve Snyder


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780986076008
Publisher: Sea Breeze Publishing LLC
Publication date: 08/15/2014
Sales rank: 674,679
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

After retiring from Vision Service Plan (VSP) in 2009, Steve Snyder began his quest to learn more about the World War II experiences of his father, pilot Howard Snyder, and his crew of the B-17, Susan Ruth. It became his passion, and after several years of dedicated research, resulted in his book, Shot Down.

One result of his new career as a World War II historian and speaker is that he became a member of numerous World War II organizations and is Vice President of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association.

In 1994, he traveled to Belgium with his parents for the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Belgium and of the Susan Ruth being shot down. He visited again in in 2004 for the 60th anniversary, and his attendance at the 70th Anniversary Celebrations in 2014 marked the official European launch of Shot Down.

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SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth is a military history book written by Steve Snyder, Howard's son. The author played at being soldiers as a boy, but did not really understand the role his father played in WWII until he was older. His father kept in touch with many of the survivors of his crew and with the people in Belgium who helped him after his plane was shot down. In 1994, Steve accompanied his parents to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Belgium Liberation. Howard Snyder and his wife both died in 2004, and Steve began looking at the war memorabilia they had collected, including Howard's hand-written journals, letters and pictures. He continued his research into the Eighth Air Force and its role in the wartime effort.  Steve Snyder's military history book, Shot Down, reads like a novel, yet it isn't. The names and faces are all real, but their stories are presented in such a compelling manner that this thorough and painstakingly researched effort reads smoothly and fluently as Snyder and his father's journals bring the past to life. I was fascinated as I read about the training the Air Force pilots received and saw how the crew was distributed and functioned on the B-17 bombers that they flew. The drama of the daily selection of planes and their crews for each day’s bombing is so well presented, and the pictures of the airmen watching for the planes to return brought home the perils and tension they lived with on a day-to-day basis. I also found myself totally immersed in the portion of the book that tells of the heroic and selfless Belgians who helped hide American soldiers during the German occupation of that country. Shot Down is a remarkable compilation of historical data that is presented in a well-written and thought-provoking narrative. It’s most highly recommended.
Grymm 4 months ago
It always takes me time to get into “true” stories because I usually find the writing hard to follow. There’s something about fiction that grabs you, no matter how realistic. This one, though? I was hooked. Snyder does a great job of recreating Howard’s adventures. The writing is phenomenal, and as many other reviews have stated, this book gets raw. Heartache, death, and danger are all incorporated masterfully, and without pulling any punches. It’s hard to have such a raw experience in print, but even harder to have such an experience touch a reader in a tangible way. The best part of this book, in my opinion, is the collection of people Snyder decided to write about, and how dedicated he was to ensuring everything was correct. This is a must-read for anyone who loves a good story, fiction or otherwise.
Gemma Davison 5 months ago
I have a real interest in reading true stories, the more interesting and unique the better. So I was drawn to the story of Lieutenant Howard Snyder during his time on the Susan Ruth which was essentially a flying fortress that was shot down in 1944. Through his own personal tale of survival during the Second World War, you learn so much about how the conflict affected not just one man, but also families, soldiers in other armies, and the atrocities that took place that so many found so hard to forget. 'Shot Down' is the true story of a remarkable man written by his son Steve Snyder, constructed from letters and journals of those her were there. I urge everyone to read this book, or others like it as it is so important to remember what so many people went through to ensure that we live in a free world today. We should never let the memories of those who served in World War II to fade, and books like this will help prevent that.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Enjoyed the book. Especially liked the evasion part on the ground.
BookTastical More than 1 year ago
It’s been a while since I read a book about war despite them being a big passion of mine years ago. I’m not even sure what enticed me to read Shot Down, but I’m so glad I did. Maybe because of the author’s father being a focus for the exploits in the book gave a extra edge to the writing, but it has now given me the urge to read further books on the second World War and others. I don’t think you need a background of war reading to appreciate this either, as I also found it very accessible.
Jamztoma More than 1 year ago
Heroic/Grueling Experiences of US Pilot Howard Snyder and His Crewmen during World War II This is the true story of US pilot Howard Snyder and his crewmen who were aboard the Susan Ruth, an aircraft named after his eldest daughter and wife’s names. This book started off slow and honestly I found it harder to grasp the military world and all its equipment terms and jargon but I pushed on hoping for the best to come. While in the first half of the book, I learned about Snyder’s life at the U.S. military base in England. His son who is the author of this book describes how the living situation was like: there was booze, parties, girls (British), letters from home, and American media to name a few that served as coping mechanisms for the young soldiers who were new to Europe and the concept of being away from home. Snyder often wrote to his wife Ruth promising his loyalty to her and conveying his best wishes to her and their daughter Susan. The second part of the book focused more on the brutal and grueling experiences of Snyder and his fellow American crewmen who survived the crash of the B-17, Susan Ruth, which was a four-engine heavy bomber that was developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corp. This was when the excitement and the readability of the book set off for me, making me enjoy the book for the first time as I absorbed with sadness and shock the heroic way certain compassionate Europeans looked after some of them and the gruesome details of the harsh treatment the other half got from the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police). It is upon reading these parts of the book that I mentally thanked the Lord for the current peaceful state of the United States as I know in my heart that I would not brave such situations if they occurred to me and my loved ones in this day and age. I admired Howard Snyder’s courage and level of endurance throughout the book. It was a wrench to my heart when I read that some of his crewmen who were taken hostage by the Gestapo were lined up and mercilessly shot in their backs. It was soothing and pleasing to my senses when I later found out that they were given proper burial after the war by the US military. This was a well-researched book and at the end, the author lists all of the books he used as sources for the vast information that is included in it. I applaud Steve for the excellent way he wrote this book, featuring a plethora of black and white photos and data essential for projects having to do with World War II. Howard Snyder and his fellow crewmen are what you would call, true American heroes because they went through so much misery and pain to bring about peace and freedom for the world and those who inhabited the countries that Hitler and his Nazis planned to enslave and subject to genocide. I am so glad that I was given this book to read and review because I then could feel and look through the eyes of these heroic American men and the Europeans who had to suffer through World War II. One can acquire an admirable interest in the notable Howard Snyder, his contemporaries, his relatives, and of course the Susan Ruth aircraft that plays a crucial part in this eventful read. I can tell you now that this is a reliable source for a school project of yours if you are a student looking for information on World War II. If you are someone who is interested in the United States’ role in World War II then look no further than this book.. Be delighted that this book has useful ph
CGYReviews More than 1 year ago
It’s rare that a book strikes a chord with me as much as Shot Down by Steve Snyder did. The action is focussed on a B-17 that is shot down in Europe, and the captain of the plane is actually the father of the author. Having that level of connection to events adds an air of utter authority to the writing, so that I felt I could believe everything that happened increasing my emotional involvement in the story. The added personal touch of letters sent home from the men involved increases the emotion even more, and the struggles they endured are beyond the understanding of most people these days. Overall this was a fantastic read, and one that should have received much greater accreditation than it has.
NoShelfControl More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book this was, and so much of it rang true from war stories I have heard passed down at gatherings of my own family. I think the sheer scale of the bravery undertaken is something that isn’t as well known as it should be. I certainly wasn’t aware of the huge scope of what they did that I have now learned from Shot Down. I think this will appeal to anyone with or without a family history of the direct events themselves, as we all have a shared heritage of brave service men and women who took part in events during World War II.
indiebrag More than 1 year ago
We are proud to announce that SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
LuxuryLit More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for those into war related fiction and non-fiction, but as someone not overly read in this area I think it’s also a very suitable introduction book to the genre as well. Snyder obviously has a vested interest in the subject matter being the son of Lieutenant Howard Snyder that the book tells the true story of. Snyder’s writing is passionate but also sedate enough to not try and oversell an already compelling and entertaining story. As wars pass on from the immediate aftermath of reality and loss into the almost fictionalisationalising of Hollywood it’s good to have a real-world grounding account of what really went on. A definite recommend from me.
CrackedSpine More than 1 year ago
I’ve long been a fan of books about war and Snyder’s Shot Down is genuinely one of the best I’ve read. The story of the author’s father and how he was shot down during World War II is shocking in it’s honest tackling of such a traumatic event, and also in the handling of so many other important related issues we may not have given the important credit they deserve. No doubt Lt Snyder was a real hero, and after finishing this book I now have an even greater level of respect for the service men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedom.
ValeryElias16 More than 1 year ago
SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder is a compelling book worth a read if you are a history fanatic, a WWII buff, or simply someone looking for a good, true story. Written by Steve Snyder, this is the story of his father Lieutenant Howard Snyder and his crew. This book reads like a documentary of sorts, with fantastic detail, thanks to interviews, letters, journals and diaries. This is a great depiction of life as a part of a bomber crew, young men in a dangerous situation, and the ensuing help from the Belgians. This is a personal account of a fascinating story, and one that could easily be read in one sitting. Highly readable and a testimony to the courage of men at war, this book is not to be missed and is highly recommended for an impactful and insightful read.
Harv_Rickman More than 1 year ago
An exceptional history of aerial combat and humanity over Europe during World War II In the final analysis what is there left to say? Of course, my recommendations to others about this book. Shot Down: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth is one of the best books bar none that I have ever read, and I have read a few, not as many as some and more than others. Steve Snyder has researched and presented an amazing story about an intrepid airman and his crew, Howard Snyder and the crew members of the Susan Ruth. His presentation is honest, forthright, and clear. The topics are supported by solid, factual and sobering information from impeccable sources. This one book I can highly recommend to anyone who wants to read a war diary unlike many out there. It stands as one of the top biographies I have ever read, and it is clearly deserving of the 5 stars I have to offer. Finally, Steve Snyder has paid the ultimate compliment to his father by telling this amazing story. It is a celebration of all that Howard accomplished and how he did his part to help bring about the victory that the Allies fought so hard to achieve. It was not without loss, and for several tens of days it looked like Howard was among the missing, but his tenacity, bravery, wit, and courage held true enabling him to carry on in the bravest tradition of the U.S. Army and its World War II Air Forces. Steve Snyder has written a clear recounting of his father’s comrades with whom he fought his part of World War II. It is difficult to take in some places where executions were the norm in the woods of Belgium, and the harsh wasteland that was Germany in the waning days of World War II. Steve Snyder is a wonderful story teller with a great and wonderful story to tell. You can almost hear those four-engine behemoths flying on to victory yet today, still making way for brighter tomorrows for each and every one of us. Thank you, Howard and Steve, for helping us appreciate the sacrifice and service that was rendered by our troops in Europe during World War II. It was an amazing ride. Creative Commons License Review of Steve Snyder's Shot Down! The Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17, Susan Ruth by Richard Buro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Steve Snyder brings his dad, Howard Snyder and his exceptional flight crew of the WWII B-17 Susan Ruth, back to vibrant life across the pages of his memoir: Shot Down. Sometime around February 8, 1944, Howard Snyder and the crew of the Susan Ruth were forced to abandon ship. The Susan Ruth was struck by enemy fire and the cockpit was filling with smoke (and fire) at a rapid rate. Howard Snyder was the pilot and the mission began as each mission began. The crew assumed their positions in the tight quarters of their aircraft. They donned the air and eased into fighter formation. Sadly, on this day, their fate perhaps was pre-destined, but none of the men could have known what lay ahead in the days and months to come once their craft began its rapid descent from the comfort of clouds and sky. The campaign of war and the formidable Nazi Regime led by the tyrannical monster, Hitler, was far from being over the day the Susan Ruth went down. Rather, the heat was being turned up more than a notch and proud American soldiers had one vision they focused on: stop the madness of Hitler. Howard Snyder had a young wife and two beautiful baby girls state-side. Yet, as his ship spiraled downward, all he could wonder was whether he and his crew would make it out alive. Would they be captured? Would they perish? Would they survive if captured? Beyond the crash, the days and months ahead would live in infamy in Snyder’s memories years beyond the end of war. Although his son Steve had yet to be conceived, it would be his commitment and the love of his father and family that would compel him to set pen to paper decades later and begin his personal journey of telling the world yet another story of the brave crew of the Susan Ruth. I finished reading Shot Down a little over a week ago, but wanted to savor this magnificent story before immediately running to my computer to write my critique. From the onset of this amazing story, I felt an instant connection with this author. He is proud. He is bursting with love. He is patient and he is on a mission to tell his father’s story not only with heart, but with precise accuracy. I was not aware of the tyranny and day-to-day trauma our brave men of this era faced. My dad was a WWII Veteran (82nd Airborne). I often recall how close-mouthed he was when it came to sharing his experience. It was simply something he had no desire to speak of. I applaud Mr. Snyder for his conviction in getting the thoughts down on paper—thoughts created by hours, months and years of sifting through the journals his father kept as much as sourcing historical accounts to get it right. The honor and pride this author has for his father is audible page after page and he pays beautiful homage to the ghosts left in the wake of such an egregious war. While I did not fact check every historical reference, I commend Mr. Snyder for his exceptional bibliography and index at the back of the book. It further enhances his commitment to telling the story and his rounded ability as an historical writer. The love this man has for his father and men (and women) in service is palpable and I thank him for his service in sharing such a beautifully written memoir. Well done Mr. Snyder. Quill says: Shot Down is a compelling memoir that further affirms why we must ‘never forget.’
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book more about the crew and the support of the people from Belgium after they were shot down. Well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was able to read a copy of this from,, wherein you are given free copies of books in exchange for objective reviews. I've read a few books about bomber pilots in WWII, (Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand) and when I saw that this was written by the pilot's son rather than a historian, I was a little apprehensive. However, the book is extremely well-written. Steve Snyder masterfully weaves world events and what was happening in the war in other places into the story to give it depth and context, making this a great read for those unfamiliar with WWII history as well as those who can't get enough of it. Howard and his crew weren't actually shot down until about halfway through the book, so you get to know the guys on the crew as they train and what their lives were like during bombing runs over Germany. The stress, discomfort, and danger that these young guys experienced is really humbling. When they are shot down, they are either killed immediately, taken prisoner, or hidden by the resistance in Belgium - an extremely dangerous and risky proposition. It was amazing that any of these brave young men made it home at all. This book was very well researched. Personal correspondence between crew members and their families, particularly Howard and his wife, made you feel as though you knew them. The author even found an account of their plane being shot down by one of the German pilots who was responsible. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Shot Down" is an Amazing story of the way life was lived thru Captain Howard Snyder, a B-17 Pilot during WW II in Europe. We MUST NEVER forget this time in so many so many ways
Richie1 More than 1 year ago
Historical account of the military career of First Lieutenant Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17G, named for Snyder's daughter Susan Ruth. Beginning with his enlistment in the US Army, the story follows Snyder through training, flight schools, missions over Europe, being shot down, being sheltered, service to The Maquis and finally liberation near the end of the war. It also chronicles the lives of his crew who endured capture, imprisonment and some death at the hands of German forces. Steve Snyder's painstaking research is evident as he details the events in Shot Down. Similar to Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, it's clear our duty is to Never Forget.