Skip to comments.WWII hero’s reunion with child savior
Posted on 05/28/2012 9:02:50 PM PDT by Pelham
It was July 31, 1944, and Army Air Corps pilot Lt. Henry Supchak was flying his 33rd bombing mission over Munich, Germany, when his B-17 bomber, nicknamed Priority Gal, was riddled by anti-aircraft fire.
Sputtering and billowing black smoke, Supchak knew the aircraft would never make it back to base in Bassingbourn, England, 650 miles away.
With two dead engines, the aircraft was plummeting fast over Nazi-occupied Austria.
I said, Fellas get your chutes on! and ordered them to jump.
Alone now, with a two-inch piece of shrapnel dug into his right leg, Supchak desperately needed to get to his own parachute below deck. If he didnt bail almost immediately, he would surely die.
I had 90 seconds to get out, Supchak told The Post.
He and daughter Elizabeth Hoban have written an account of those chilling minutes and how a little boy helped save him from the harrowing aftermath, and again in adulthood in the just released The Final Mission: A Boy, A Pilot, and a World at War.
Dont ask me why, but I looked out the windshield, he recalled. The plane was heading directly into the village. I wasnt about to kill innocent people, he said.
I got back into the pilots seat, pulled all the levers and brakes, and cut the two [remaining] engines and forced the plane to go left so it would not go near the village of Neustift.
Supchak bailed out, falling into the hands of brutal SS guards.
A 7-year-old shepherd boy named Ander Haas and his aunt had seen the man who fell from the sky turn his aircraft away at the last minute to save their town. They never forgot his heroics.
While a prisoner of the Nazis, Supchak had no idea that
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...
Nice article. I’ll have to look up that book.
Is your screen name taken from Gallant Pelham?
Yes, that’s my nom de guerre. I was inspired by Shelby Foote’s description of Pelham at Fredericksburg and took the name. Pelham creating havoc on the Union left with his one little cannon amused me, probably a good deal more than it amused his targets.
Actually I had my own ancestor at that same battle alongside Pelham, but no one would likely ask me about it if I had selected his name ;)
What a neat story!
Well, an interesting story for you then!
A while back I picked up an old used book in a Christian book store. I was helping a ex-preacher sell some of his inventory of new and used books on Ebay, and he gave me the book to say thanks.
The book is “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” by John Fox Jr.
And the book is signed by Pelham’s brother! He gave it as a gift to someone, I’d have to get it off the book shelf to refresh my memory.
It’s an interesting inscription. It says that the first part of the book is far better than the second half, but that half a loaf is better than none. (In the second half of the book the main character joins the Union Army.)
I found a gentleman and his wife online who studied the Pelham family, as his wife was a descendant, of the Pelham family, can’t remember which branch or how. I believe he was a college professor. So I sent him a copy of the flyleaf of the book and he confirmed to me that it was the signature of Gen. John Pelham’s brother.
That’s a good find, the sort of thing that makes history come alive.
Have you see the website HistoryPin.com?
Another interesting war story;
My father-in-law was a B 17 ball turret gunner at the end of the war.
After the hostilities ended, they kept flying missions into Europe, dropping FOOD to the recently liberated civilians. (He says one of the scariest things he ever saw was these people running into the fields to get food while it was still falling.)
Years later, he was trying to raise the capital to open a Christian book store in Arizona.
Several people told him to go talk to this rich Dutch businessman. Finally, in desperation, he went to see the man. As they talked, the subject of what Augie had done in the war came up. When he got to the part about the food drops the man paused and asked what country. Augie told him the one he was involved with was Holland.
The dutchman told Augie that as a boy he was one of the people running through the falling packages to get food, They were starving.
After the war his family had emigrated to the US. They had had some success in business and he was looking for somewhere to invest some of it.
He asked Augie how much he needed and wrote out a check on the spot. No credit check, no business plan, nothing. Just a handshake.... Small world, ain’t it?
The men of the 8th Air Force who flew their B-17s and B-24s to targets in Europe day after day were some of the bravest men you can imagine.
A minor correction: The “7 year old boy” of 1944 would be 75 years old today not 68.
No, I don’t know that site.