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My B-17 crew survived Nazi-occupied France in World War II. Now I'm the last man standing.

My B-17 crew was shot down on a bombing mission to Germany. We had no idea what lay ahead of us in Nazi-occupied France and what we would later endure. ( More...

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Roy Knighton 13
My brother in law, Clarence Roundtree, from Oklahoma died here in the UK in February 2015 at age 91. He was also 19 when he first flew in a B17 over Germany out of Kimbolton airfield. He had met my sister and after doing 25 missions he stayed on to do more. It was on the second tour that he was also shot down behind enemy lines over France. He made it back to UK though the French resistance and while in Paris he was given a silver Sainte Christophe by a French resistance lady: my sister still has that lucky charm. At the time he died I believe he was one of only two 8th Airforce crew living in the UK. My sister did not follow him to the US in 1946 but married someone else. However, my father and then me had remained in touch and when her first husband died in 1989 Clarence came over to UK and married my sister in 1991. They were both 68 years old at that time. I regret he did not speak more about his experiences during the war but these old timers generally did not. I have known ex Royal Air Force pilots from that time and they were the same. Bless'em All!
patrick baker 19
who really knows much aout any direction of one's life around 20 years of age? THese gentlemen adapted and excelled and the trajectory of a useful life was set in motion, lasting until ages around 75 to 85. I honor and salute these people, and feel the loss from afar as the ten whittle down to just one. I have been in a B-17: narrow, noisy, very close quarters. They made hallowed the aircraft they flew and the results we all honor. The last is 94 years old, but not in his memories.
James Simms 6
Yea, been in both a -17 & -24. They’re not as roomy as tv & movies make it out to be. I had the opportunity back in 1973 to attend my late Father’s WW2 reunion. Wish I had pictures of it to look back on.
linbb 32
Thanks for the info sorry for those who chose to down vote this that one of the few remaining WW11 vets chose to write. Thank you for your service.
bbabis 24
Thank you Capt'n to you and your crew for a job well done.
Terry Isom 23
Tank you for you & your crewmembers service for our country. The greatest generation!
Lisa Miller 8
It's always amazing to imagine just what it was like at such young ages to be fighting in such a war - but all that did secured our American freedoms for years to come. My Dad, James W Miller age 99, was a bombadier on the B-17 (his was named "Flak Foot Floogie") and flew 23 or 26 missions over occupied Europe. One of the last missions they made it back to base in England with just 1 engine and 3 crew members dead. Brought Dad to the Flying Freedom Show a few months ago where a B-17 was on display. It was neat to see & hear him tell some stories to WWII "junkies" - one thing he said that really stood out was how sometimes he would have to run down that narrow strip of steel to "knock 'em down" as he gestured by stomping his foot on the tarmac. The bombs would get stuck in the bay. Proud of him needless to say and all of those that fought so bravely....and continue to do to this day.Thank you Captain Starks for sharing your story.
David Seider 2
Thank you for sharing, Lisa!
And a big Navy salute to your Dad!
T K 8
Brave, brave men to whom we owe more than could be repaid. No one should glorify war, but neither should they diminish the personal sacrifices that were made. Freedom is a privilege.

[This poster has been suspended.]

ToddBaldwin3 17
It is a shame that there are people out there that do not like this story, for whatever reason, but it is important to keep in mind that this is what they fought for, and all of us that have served have fought for. The right to like or dislike something.
Lois Lettini 4
I guess I am missing something! Why would people not like this story?
James Simms 7
Both of my late Parents were WW2 Navy vets. Dad served w/ the Sino American Cooperative Organization (SACO) behind Japanese lines on mainland China. He worked w/ the Chinese Communists, Nationalists, & the OSS. Mom was a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Her Second Cousin, Maurice "Footsie" Britt; won the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts, plus English & Italian awards. One Bronze Star award involved doing calisthenics in the open to revel a German machine gun nest. He eventually lost his right arm in the process. He went to law school, became a successful businessman & two term Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. My GGF was a First Sergeant w/ Co. A, 14th SC Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Myself, I’m a 23 year Army Vet w/tours in Korea, Ft. Lewis, WA, four Annual Training rotations to Panama back in the day, a five month TDY to SHAPE in Mons, Belgium, & deployed to Saudi Arabia w/my Guard unit for Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Thank you to both you...and yours!
PS: I have a brother-in-law by the name of Bill "Bear" Simms, originally from Levittown, PA.
James Simms 1
My Dad’s original last name was written “Sims”. His brother played trombone in the Big Band’s & had his own group for a while. Because there was another “Jimmy Sims” (I’m named after him) in the business, he added the additional “m” in his/our last name. Possibility though there’s a relationship, I’m just not aware of it.
James Simms 1
Thank you
sparkie624 13
Great Story... Thanks for sharing... And Thanks to the so many who Gave their life so that we can live in this great nation with freedom...
HenricusCox 6
My father, as a 12 year old, saw them fly over the south of Holland and get shot at. If it wasn't for Captain Starks, and men like him, this post would have been written in German.

Thank you sir.
An inspiring story. In the UK, a memorial to RAF Bomber Command was built and unveiled in 2012 on the northern side of Green Park in central London. Bomber Command had 125,000 staff, of whom 55,573 were lost (a 46% a casualty rate), of whom 10,650 casualties were Canadian. Bomber Command crews came from the UK, Canada, Poland, Czechoslovakia and many of the British Commonwealth and empire countries.

Next Tuesday (June 10th), the Royal Air Force will celebrate ite centenary with a 100-aircraft flypast over Central London, up The Mall and over Buckingham Palace at 1300hrsUK.

I have a day-trip to London planned for Tuesday!
les horn 2
Hope you mean July 10th otherwise you've missed it and so have we.
Oh b*gg*r! And it was all going so well.yes, I mean July 10th - which is definitely next Tuesday!
No goofed cuz you're so excited about the upcoming event. I make mistakes like that for absolutely no reason at all. Have a good time!
James Simms 3
A big dislike thete’s not an edit feature
I agree heartily - some of my most creative typos are preserved for all eternity on this particular website, but at least the website doesn't feature "auto-correct"!
And it was a fabulous sight over central London today, standing on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace and watching everything fly over.
Bror Monberg 5
The greatest generation...surviving the depression only to be rewarded with fighting(and winning)WWII. Came home to sacrifice and build an America for their families that is unparalleled...every day I respect them more.
Thanks to a great man and his crew from an Englishman who will never forget how the Americans help us in world war 11 we will never forget those heroes Ray Watson
canuck44 16
What a difference in society when 23 year olds were considered the old men. It would seem any snowflakes in the 1940's were due to weather not coddled upbringing.
Thanks C’tain.
Ed Crist 4
What a story. So young and saddled with such responsibility. My dad joined the AAF before WWII and was discharged a few months before Pearl Harbor due to a collapsed lung (caused by a Army doctor). We grew up in Pecos, Texas which was a few miles from Pyote and my dad worked at Pyote field. I remember as a young boy the many planes stored there. I salute the Capt. and all the brave veterans who served our country. Soon there will be no WWII vets around, then Korea War vets, then Vietnam vets (I'll be in that group), and the list goes on.
arlys 3
Thank you. Legend.
WhiteKnight77 3
I mostly read WWII history and have read numerous books about the air war over Europe and several stories about the men who flew those missions and they all tell similar tales. They put up with a bunch and dealt with it. Sadly, there are few today who would be willing to go that far (the ones that do serve).
WhiteKnight77 1
I ordered the book today and expect it on Sunday. The problem is, I have another 8 books in front of it, 5 of them by David Glantz including his Stalingrad Trilogy.
calworth 2
Thank you Captain and your crew for giving my generation and subsequent generations the freedoms that we enjoy. God Bless
jcw1953 2
I wish I could make this man 20 years old again today and all his pay them back from what a nut case in Germany they could have lived a normal life......
Carlos Rice 2
Thank you Captain and your brave crew for your service and sacrifice. You are true heroes of the the Greatest Generation.
rdragoo 2
Thank you Captain Starks. You did well. Myself and family deeply appreciate your service. You truly are among the Greatest Generation!
Thank you Captain for what you and your crew did on behalf of freedom. My generation and the ones to come will be forever in debt to yours !!
I just finished the book and found it quite interesting. The writing wasn’t the best but the story made up for this. Recommend the book. I found the book by reading an earlier post on FA..
William Lex 2
These guys fought for freedom of expression, including the right to "take a knee," to protest civil injustice.
It's sad these childish multimillionaires have to protest during the national anthem. I no longer watch the NFL. It degrades America.
Tom Carlstrom 1
19 "downvotes"? How can anyone vote this man's experiences down? What a pity.
norman chab 1
I have a question for someone.
How were pilots and co-pilots chosen for B-17 and B-24's.
I've notice that some co-pilots flew CP on one aircraft the entire 35 or more missions and never made the left seat so time and experience wasn't the only factor.
Anyone know? It's a question that has been bugging me for years.
I am so amazed by all our WWII heroes and love to watch everything I can find about that war, including the series "World At War," (my dad served in the Air Corps during the war), and one of my most favorite movies is "The Best Years Of Our Lives." I'm so glad you're still with us, Capt'n, so this one's for you....“Oh hell, George, just (keep) bring(ing) it on in!”
Thank you, Captain Starks, for sharing the story of your time in the service. I am glad that your story is published so we can read the whole story. Thank you, too, for your sacrificial service to country and for us all.
John Lacy 1
Awesome story, not many left like you with the experience that you and your crew had. We can keep the aircraft alive but the crews will soon be gone...I've been in a 17, I can't even begin to imagine what it mush have been like for the crews, especially the gunners, being in those seats for so long in the cold and the noise and then add being shot at to top it off... thank you Captain Starks, and please thank all the other crews when you see them again....
skylab72 1
When I think about WWII Euro-theater bomber crews, I always feel a little guilty for feeling a bit tweaked over getting grounded to come home one flying day before being awarded my 9th Air Medal. They were in their war "for the duration", and I only had 365 days. They had to actually fly three or four times as many hours per Air Medal, some of which was actually in harm's way even though not "clocked for a medal". If my skids were not touching the ground I was racking up more medal time. If they got shot down, getting home was usually very dicey. I got shot down six times in the nine months on flight status, and I was recovered and "home" with my bird by sundown every single time! Those guys have my love and respect, they make my war seem easy.
skylab72 1
Callsign Vulture22, 2nd Pltn, 162nd AsltHelCo, 11th Avn Btn, 1st Aviation Brigade
Ruth Lopez 1
Great article, my heart goes to all participants in real time event and also in the restoration. Thank you for sharing with us. While reading I felt like I was watching a movie. Very moving.
Mark Anderson 1
Thank you for your service. Just had a ride in the B-17 a week ago.
Faster Gun 1
The tumult and the shouting have died away. The B-17’s and B-24’s will never again assemble into strike formation in the bitter cold of embattled skies. Never again will the musical thunder of their passage cause the very earth to tremble, the source of sound lost in infinity and seeming to emanate from all things, visible and invisible. The great deep-throated engines are forever silent, replaced by the flat, toneless roar of the jets and the rockets. But, on bleak and lonely winter nights in the English Midlands, ghost squadrons take off silently in the swirling mist of the North Sea from the ancient week-choked runways, and wing away toward the east, never to return. On other nights the deserted woodlands ring with unheard laughter and gay voices of young men and young women who once passed that way. Recollections of all these fade a little with each passing year until at last there will finally remain only the indelible records of the all-seeing Master of the Universe to recall the deeds of valor excelled by no other nation, arm, or service. These sacred scrolls will forever remain the heritage of the free and untrampled people of this earth.
Col. Bud Peasley, C.O. 384th BG (H), 8th Air Force
John Rumble -3
Just trying to imagine any of today's 19 and 20 year olds stepping up to this.
Bearing in mind at 20 they had grown up in the depression,
Greatest generation indeed

Today's brats would be shot down as they Instagramed the incoming fighters
Hmmm... try not to confuse the noisy (and excessively-visible) Cardassians with those in the early years of their careers who, in my experience, are actually making a darn good job of learning how the world works and getting ready to run it.

If you ignore the clattering of the (admittedly many) empty vessels, our young men and women (with whom I frequently come into contact in a variety of circumstances) have a very clear idea of what they want and how to achieve it. Which means, in turn, that there are enough good men and women, in most nations, who ARE prepared to stand up and defend their various countries.

SO, in concluding this reply: the current "younger generation" actually make me pretty proud.

Oh lord, I'm getting OLD!!
(Should that me "OMG" in Cardassian-speak??)
ToddBaldwin3 1
I'll have to disagree with you on that. I work with soldiers of all ages and ranks. It's been my experience that these soldiers, including the younger ones are just as dedicated and hard working as you or I.
jcw1953 -6
His book should be required reading for the NFL players who are a knee.
But the ones who kneel may not be able to read!
skylab72 1
Objecting to taking a Knee during the National Anthem is for morons. According to the international diplomatic protocols, kneeling one hand over the heart is the highest salute that can be offered a sovereign or sovereign symbol (flag). It is TWO steps above a standing salute. Moreover, the issue being highlighted by this extra respectful behavior is real, and important to meaningfully address.
sparkie624 1
It depends on the intent of the kneeing!
Bruce Atkinson -1
It really depends on love of country, THANKFULNESS for opportunities and not taking advantage of one's position. Blacks can thank democrats' agenda to use them to stay in power for 200 years of slavery.
skylab72 1
Bruce, you really need to get out more. If you have never seen a one knee salute you have never been to a national level drill team competition, much less an international one, nor have you seen any one of several Shakespeare plays "properly" done.
It may be international protocol, although I've never seen any living human do it, but in the United States of America, singing the Star Bangled Banner or quietly standing with one's hat off is protocol.
WhiteKnight77 1
We were taught that it was proper to take out hats off and place our hand over our hearts. In the military, we face the flag and salute until the song is over. No where in the US until recently did I ever see someone kneel during such. One might kneel while praying, but not as a way to salute the flag during the National Anthem.
igglee -9
Obiviously written by a white person.
Back in the 40's America's racial divide was enormous, now is it only a little better only. The "knee" is to protest the inequality against minorities, especially actions against African Americans by the predominately white police.
The US hasn't come very far really from the days of segregation.
Bruce Atkinson -1
Only a little? My protest is no longer watching spoiled multimillionaires degenerate my country. If its better somewhat else, go there. My WHITE GG Grandfather, fighting to FREE blacks, died in a Confederate prison camp leaving a widow and 7 kids. From what I read there's a lot more black on black crime than from others. You can thank the Democrat party for keeping blacks enslaved since the 1700's. Remember LBJ said " we will have these n*****s voting Democrat for the next 200 years with all the programs we get them signed up for." But blacks keep electing the slave holders. Why?


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