Later, he received a transfer to Europe. While traveling from Hawaii to England, the B-17 he was in flew over Griffith, Indiana and “buzzed” his hometown. My mother said they had been expecting it, and everyone knew who it was. Joe, being short (about 5’8”), was a tail gunner flying bombing missions over Germany.
The first week in December, on his 13th mission, his B-17 was shot down over the Black Forest. The crew parachuted to safety. All survived but the pilot. Joe hid in an abandoned farmhouse for 4 or 5 days. He melted snow to drink, and in one of the houses he found one egg, flour and sugar. His feet froze, and he wrapped them in old rags. He decided to try to make it back to the American line. He was dressed up as an old lady, and some German solders spotted him crossing a river.
I wonder if he stole the clothes? He was a beautiful young man, charming, and he spoke German. Perhaps he talked a kind older woman into giving him the disguise? We never felt like we could ask him, he didn't like to talk about those days. Regardless, he was captured and imprisoned at a German prisoner of war camp until the end of the war.
War, of course, is Hell.
|Uncle Joe, Uncle Jerry, and Grandma (before he was captured)|