A real life hero

A real life hero

This was an email my uncle sent to my father, who forwarded it to me. It was such a moving story I just had to share it.

A B-17 pilot named Charlie Brown (no relation to the ‘Peanuts’ character) was with the 379th bomber group at Kimbolton England during World War 2. His plane was heavily damaged in combat and he was trying to return to England, but his compass was destroyed so instead he was lost and was flying deeper into enemy territory. After flying over a German airfield, a pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to shoot the plane down. Stigler took off but when he got close to the plane he, in his own words, “had never seen a plane is such a bad state”. Instead of shooting, Franz flew close enough to see Charlie Brown scared and struggling to control his plane. Franz signaled Charlie to turn his plane 180 degrees and escorted him out to the North Sea, back towards England. Franz then saluted Charlie before turning around and heading back to Germany.

Upon returning to his base Franz lied to his CO and said the plane had been shot down over the sea. He never told anyone what really happened. Similarly, when Charlie Brown and his surviving crew returned to Kimbolton and told their commanders what happened, they were ordered never to speak of this. Charlie Brown spent the next 40 years trying to find this pilot. They finally met in America at the 379th bomber’s reunion.

When asked why he didn’t shoot, Stigler replied, “I didn’t have the heart to finish those brave men… They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute.”

Considering this was World War 2, when Germany was under Hitler, Franz’s actions would have probably gotten him executed for treason. As someone who is of German descent, whose grandparents survived the war and grandfathers served in the German navy, whose father is a Vietnam veteran, I felt it was necessary to share this story. If only there were more people like Franz Stigler in the world, maybe history would be a lot less bloody.

Follow the link to the video on my Linkedin page. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/craig-weidhuner-98b013ba_this-video-my-uncle-sent-is-about-a-german-activity-6725836231483232257-9E-8/



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