A bit of World War II history is landing in Falls City this Saturday, Oct. 15.
A wing panel off a B-17 (Flying Fortress) is being sent around the U.S. to be signed by surviving members of the historic 8th Air Force’s 384th Bomb Group stationed at Grafton-Underwood, England, during the war. It will be signed by Bill Schock, a B-17 pilot in the 38th, at a brief 11 a.m. ceremony at the Richardson County Historical Museum, 1401 Chase St.
The B-17 and B-24 (Liberator) were the workhorses of the violent air war, which preceded the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, for nearly two years. The 384th’s primary function was the strategic bombardment of airfields and industries in France, Germany, and surrounding Nazi-occupied areas.
Schock, then 25, made his first combat raid on Oct. 8, 1943.
“The first week, we lost 156 B-17s and about 1,500 men ended up either prisoners of war or killed,” he said.
Eight months and 24 missions later, on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1944, Bill and his crew sustained a direct hit from a flak battery following a successful bombing run to Marienburg, East Prussia, and were forced to parachute into Denmark and the waiting arms of the Nazis. Schock survived 13 months as a POW at Stalag Luft I prison camp on the Baltic Sea near Barth, Germany. The liberation began on May 17, 1945 and Bill arrived back in the Falls City train station on June 27.
The panel is being brought to Falls City by Dr. Mark Meehl of the Concordia University faculty in Seward. Dr. Meehl is a 384th Bomb Group historian. His father was a crew chief in the 384th.
The panel has come to Nebraska from San Diego and will go from here to Denver and Mississippi. Eventually it will be an artifact at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Ogden, Utah.
- DOROTHY GRACE WILLIAMS
- CGB, its recruiters not in violation of CPA, judge rules