Facebook aids No Man left behind

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by NorwichDad, Jan 24, 2015.

  1. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    I had an interesting experience this week. I belong to a closed group on Facebook revolving around the town where I live. Apparantly the wreck of a B-17 had been found recently in Germany. Human remains were found. The military has teams that try to identify the remains by identifying the aircraft. They go through records saved from long ago in the debriefings after the raid from those who returned. They match those statements to the location where the aircraft was found. They eliminate survivors to narrow down identification. They seek out relatives to match DNA samples from the remains. It is a very detailed and complex search.

    Apparently the plane was one that went down on August 17, 1943 in one of the raids on the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany. There was one member of the plane who was killed before the crew bailed out.

    The remains of this Airman apparently was from my hometown. After 72 years the military could not find relatives with the same name in our area. The military reached out to the moderator of this local facebook group. She posted the story on the site. She asked if anyone knew of the family and where his relatives could be. She asked to ask old relatives who lived in the town in the 1940s if they knew the family. Many quickly posted information. Within two hours two of this man's nieces identified themselves. I hope they write a story on it in the next few weeks. I will post it up here if they do.

    NO MAN LEFT BEHIND
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
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  2. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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    Wow! A long time coming, but hopefully the news was comforting to the family. Facebook has its problems (as does other forms of social media), but just when I think it's time to unplug from it all, a story like this is shared. Thanks for sharing and please keep us updated on the story.
     
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  3. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Wow, The town historical society also discovered that this Airman's family lost(also KIA) another son(Also Air Corps) a few months before his death. They had one other son who served and survived the war. Also one of his sisters is still alive.

    Also that particular Schweinfurt raid was bad:

    The mission inflicted heavy damage on the Regensburg target, but at catastrophic loss to the force, with 60 bombers lost and many more damaged beyond economical repair.

    As soon as the reconnaissance photographs were received on the evening of the 17th, Generals Eaker and Anderson knew that the Schweinfurt raid had been a failure. The excellent results at Regensburg were small consolation for the loss of 60 B-17s. The results of the bombing were exaggerated, and the high losses were well disguised in after-mission reports. Everyone who flew the mission stressed the importance of the escorts in reducing losses; the planners grasped only that Schweinfurt would have to be bombed again, soon, in another deep-penetration, unescorted mission[
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  4. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    Oh my God, Norwich Dad, you and I live in the same town! That is crazy insane. I had no idea. I just got through reading this whole story on the Historical Society group, and in the "You know you're from ..." group.

    I mean, you and I have talked and what not for a couple of years, and here we were in the same little town. Wow.
     
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  5. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Payitforward that is amazing. Small World. It is a great little town. We can't be more than a mile from each other.

    That is some story on those sites.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015
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  6. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    I've worked on the Memorial Day ceremony and parade for years, have seen those two men with the same last name on the WWII list, always wondering what the backstory was, always wondering where that family lived, wondering how the family coped with losing two sons. To put a story to those names, and a middle school photo, after all these years is really quite amazing to me. Now they're saying that one of the sisters is still alive and they are contacting her for DNA matching so that the remains can be returned here. The fact that this connection was made in a manner of hours as a result of a Facebook post, well, it just makes the world a little bit smaller today.

    And knowing after all these moons that NorwichDad is right here in my tiny little town — that's pretty amazing too. You must be so proud of your son. Now I have another reason to cheer for Norwich cadets, and another contact to send inquiries to when people are looking for inside info on senior military colleges.
     
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  7. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Thanks, I know you are very proud of your son. UNG is a great school. My son has a friend from IBOLC who went to UNG. On one afternoon in 2013 he did some incredibly brave things in Afghanistan. He represented UNG completely that day. He is doing well and is happy.
     
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  8. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    Interesting twist to story. The Airman's sister does not want to submit DNA for identification. The story she was told back then is that her brother went down in the English Channel and that this one could not be him. The rest of her family is respecting that. You really never know what people have gone through. Maybe she does not want to relive that summer long ago when as a teenage girl she lost two brothers that she loved so dearly.
     
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  9. ChiTown

    ChiTown Member

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    Thanks for your update NorwichDad~I've been following your posts. She probably doesn't want to relive that painful summer.
     
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  10. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    That is a heartbreaking addition to the story. I can understand and respect her wishes, but at the same time, I can't help wondering about the validity of the story told so many years ago. The DNA test might just help somebody else find a long lost relative, or fill in the details of someone else's story.

    Thirty-two years ago this May, a drunk driver lost control of his car and slammed into the car my 20-year-old brother was driving. On some level, I understand the sister's pain and her reluctance to relive a tragic time of her family's life. The drunk driver who killed my brother, however, was never charged, so if I thought there was SOMEthing I could do to fill in the holes of the story, I would do it. But that's just me.
     
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  11. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    I am so sorry about your brother. One of the posts detailed the flight of the plane from an interview with one of the waste gunners who survived many years after the war. He indentified the Airman as the only one killed in flight by fighter attacks. He said all the others bailed out. The man interviewed said he was so badly wounded that he blacked out as he jumped. He woke up on the ground surrounded by German soldiers.

    The remains are probably the man from our town.

    The military will probably wait, 5, 10 or 15 years and revisit the contacts.
     
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  12. NorwichDad

    NorwichDad Member

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    I have heard that this Airman's sister has had a change of heart. She is 85 and pretty rattled by the news. She heard a different story of his death when she was 12 or 13. Her mother could never speak about it. At her age now things are difficult and confusing for some. She has agreed to the testing. If she changes her mind there are other family members.

    Some wounds never heal
     
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