Days before Memorial Day observances were held Bill Schock sat in the back of the Falls City Journal office and reminisced about his time in World War II. Discussing his service has become almost second nature for Bill. Visitors who are passing through town often come by to talk about his many accolades during his time in the service. This time Bill is telling the story for Lance Schwartz of the 10/11 News out of Lincoln. Last Wednesday, Lance a former Falls City resident who is now the producer and editor of the twice-weekly segment “Lance’s Journal,” returned to his hometown to film his widely praised feature. In recognition of Memorial Day, Lance decided to honor someone he had both admired and worked for, Mr. Bill Schock.
Bill Schock was just 22 years old when he volunteered for the draft in 1941. Bill soon became a B-17 bomber pilot and on October 8, 1943 made his first combat raid. In the first week he was in combat, they lost 156 B-17’s, resulting in about 1,500 men perishing or becoming prisoners of war. April 9, 1944 during Bill’s 25th mission, he and his crew went on a bombing run to Marienburg, East Prussia. According to the historical society, it was one of the best bomb drops of the war. One the way back to England, Bill’s bomber sustained a direct hit from a flak battery. The hit started a large fire and Bill bailed his crew out, parachuting into Demark. Bill and what was left of his crew found themselves German prisoners of war. Bill endured 2 days of intense interrogation. Bill relied on his faith and sense of humor to get him through the next 13 months in a P.O.W. camp. Finally May 8 brings word by radio that the war in Europe will be over at midnight. At 2p.m. on May 17th a lone B-17 appears to start moving people out. After order is restored evacuation begins, sick and wounded go first, then Britishers are loaded up. In all about 900 Kriegies or Former P.O.W.’s are flow out that afternoon. The following day 6,450 prisoners of war are evacuated, mostly Americans. The third day, the stragglers and members of the Field Force are to go. Bill leaves Europe one year, nine months and 22 days later. At the end of June 1945, Bill arrived at Falls City’s Missouri Pacific Railroad Station. He hitched a ride with a woman to the downtown area of Falls City, where he spotted his mothers car at the local Market. He walked into the store, walked up behind his mother and hugged her “Hi, Mom, I’m home.” Bill Schock had returned to Falls City, Nebraska a hero.
As Bill sits in his chair carefully placed in front of the camera his emotions are on the surface. Speaking of the men in his crew brings light to his eyes and a smile to his face. Lance has more than enough information for his story but everyone in the room wants to hear more. These days Bill continues to work daily at the Falls City Journal after nearly seven decades.
Last Friday night, the 10/11 News aired this special edition of “Lance’s Journal.” The segment recounted Bill’s heroic journey during his time in WWII. It showed us a glimpse of a brave man who served American proudly so long ago. It was a lovely tribute to a man so many people respect and adore, a true American hero.
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