Story of Chivalry
This is a discussion on Story of Chivalry within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; THE STORY BELOW OCCURRED BACK IN THE DAYS WHEN THERE WAS HONOR IN BEING A WARRIOR...THEY PROUDLY WORE UNIFORMS, AND THEY DIDN'T HIDE IN AMBUSH ...
May 21st, 2009 06:39 PM
Story of Chivalry
THE STORY BELOW OCCURRED BACK IN THE DAYS WHEN THERE WAS HONOR IN BEING A WARRIOR...THEY PROUDLY WORE UNIFORMS, AND THEY DIDN'T HIDE IN AMBUSH INSIDE
A MOSQUE, OR BEHIND WOMEN AND CHILDREN, NOR DID THEY USE MENTALLY RETARDED WOMEN AS SUICIDE BOMBERS TO TARGET AND KILL INNOCENT CIVILIANS...
HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED...
COPYRIGHT 1995 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service
MIAMI _ A few days ago, Charlie Brown marked the 52nd anniversary of the event that saved his life.
That's not Charlie Brown the comic strip character but Charles L. Brown, a Miami inventor-entrepreneur who recently turned 73. His two decades of work in business and scientific research will have to suffice as a reason for telling his remarkable personal story in the Business section of this newspaper.
What happened to Brown on Dec. 20, 1943, is an uplifting tale for any place or any time. But it's especially pertinent around Christmas, for it reflects mankind's compassionate instincts that often surface even in the worst of times.
Brown's rendezvous with death occurred high in the air over Germany during World War II while he was flying his first bombing mission as pilot-commander of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Attacking a German aircraft plant at Bremen, 2nd Lt. Brown's plane, which he named ``Ye Olde Pub,'' was hit repeatedly by ground fire and then again by a swarm of enemy fighter planes.
A sister ship flying alongside him went down in flames. One of Brown's four engines was disabled. Another was sputtering. His tail gunner was killed by a burst of flak. Three other crewmen were wounded and Brown himself was struck in the shoulder, rendering him unconscious temporarily.
``Ye Olde Pub'' went into a dive, falling perhaps five miles from its lofty height before Brown recovered long enough to level the plane a few hundred feet from the ground.
It seems amazing that the heavily damaged B-17 remained in the air. But it did, and Brown turned it toward the North Sea, hoping to keep it flying until he reached the shores of England 250 miles away.
Glancing out the cockpit window, Brown saw a German fighter plane, a Messerschmitt 109, flying alongside. This, he thought, was the beginning of the end. A severely crippled bomber with all but one of its 11 guns inoperative was a sitting duck for an enemy attacker.
Unbelievably, the enemy aircraft did not attack.
``The German pilot was nodding to us,'' Brown recalled. ``But we assumed it was just a matter of time before he came in for the kill.''
Suddenly, to the surprise of the crew, the German saluted, rolled to the right and flew off. ``Ye Olde Pub'' had been spared, its crew reprieved to fight another day.
After the war, Brown remained in the Air Force, serving in many capacities until he retired in 1972 as a lieutenant colonel and settled in Miami as head of a combustion research company. But the episode of the German who refused to attack a beaten foe haunted him. He was determined to find the enemy pilot who spared him and his crew.
He wrote numerous letters of inquiry to German military sources, with little success. Finally, a notice in a newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots elicited a response from Franz Stigler, a German fighter ace credited with destroying more than two dozen Allied planes. He, it turned out, was the angel of mercy in the skies over Germany on that fateful day just before Christmas 1943.
It had taken 46 years, but in 1989 Brown found the mysterious man in the ME-109. Careful questioning of Stigler about details of the incident removed any doubt.
Stigler, now 80, had emigrated to Canada and was living near Vancouver. After an exchange of letters, Brown flew there for a reunion. The two men have visited each other frequently since that time and have appeared jointly before Canadian and American military audiences. The most recent appearance was at the annual Air Force Ball in Miami in September, where the former foes were honored.
In his first letter to Brown, Stigler had written: ``All these years, I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?''
She made it, just barely. But why did the German not destroy his virtually defenseless enemy?
``I didn't have the heart to finish off those brave men,'' Stigler later said. ``I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do it. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute.''
Stigler never reported the episode to his superiors. In recent years, the story has been told in several publications and once on a CBS television show.
Today, Brown continues his research efforts. The most impressive perhaps is the development of a device to improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution in automobiles. While it has been widely acclaimed, it has not been used commercially.
But the low and high points of his life both occurred on the same day 52 years ago. The saga of the 1943 raid on Bremen and the Christmas season compassion of Franz Stigler are indelibly imprinted on Charlie Brown's memory.
(c) 1995, Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
A life in the balance is spared aloft: Airman finds counterpart who refused to shoot. (28-DEC-95) Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
May 21st, 2009 06:45 PM
Here are some pics:
Here are Pictures of the two pilots, and a painting done by artist in first picture.
May 21st, 2009 06:47 PM
Both men passed away in 2008.
May 21st, 2009 06:53 PM
"Who is to say that I am not an instrument of karma? Indeed, who is to say that I am not the very hand of God himself, dispatched by the Almighty to smite the Philistines and hypocrites, to lay low the dishonest and corrupt, and to bust the jawbone of some jackass that so desperately deserves it?"
May 21st, 2009 07:21 PM
wow, thats a great story!
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