A Higher Call











I just read “A Higher Call.” Even though it is about a B-17 rather than a B-26, I was able to geth a good feel for what it was like to fly a mission. The true story is one I’m sure would interest the people who view this web site.

“A Higher Call”

“A Higher Call”

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— December 20, 1943 —

Near the coast of Germany . . . German ace Franz Stigler had never seen a B-17 this damaged. My God, how are you still flying? he thought. Inside the bomber’s cockpit, the rookie American pilot, Charlie Brown, was thinking the same thing.
An air battle had shredded his bomber. Leaning forward to check an engine, a sight made Charlie’s heart skip. There, three feet from his wingtip flew a gray Bf-109. Charlie closed his eyes and opened them but the German was still there. He’s going to destroy us, Charlie concluded.
Instead, Franz did something incredible—he nodded to Charlie. In the presence of his enemy, Franz had changed. He had only become a fighter pilot to avenge his brother, a pilot killed early in the war. But there, alongside the defenseless B-17, Franz decided to break the cycle of violence, to spare the bomber and escort it out of Germany.
It was a gesture Charlie would never forget. In his old age, he would search the world for Franz and in 1990 they would reunite, not as former enemies but as brothers separated for 46 years. 

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