Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by FlexiBull, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. FlexiBull

    FlexiBull Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Not sure if you have caught this story.

    "WWII hero with a remarkable story
    In 1943, a German pilot decided not to shoot down Charlie Brown's damaged plane. Brown died last month, but he lived to finally see his heroism recognized.
    BY CHARLES RABIN
    [email protected]

    When World War II bomber pilot Charlie Brown is laid to rest Saturday, his burial will close a chapter on one of the most remarkable war stories in modern history.

    It's a tale of two pilots -- one American, the other German -- and of a bloody, deadly battle in the sky that led to an extraordinary friendship.

    Brown, a fighter pilot, scientist, engineer and happy-hour connoisseur, died last month of heart complications. Born into poverty in West Virginia and a Miamian since the early 1970s, Brown will be buried Saturday at Woodlawn Park Cemetery South. He was 86.

    His family and friends remember him as outgoing, gregarious, a man who invented a car part that allowed for greatly enhanced mileage, a loving father, a great friend.

    ''He was perpetually interested in the natural world, and what made it tick,'' said friend Jim Brodie, director of legislative and cabinet affairs for the state Department of Veteran Affairs.

    Brown's story, and his enduring friendship with a German flying ace, is of fairy-tale caliber. It has been told before. It bears retelling.

    At the break of dawn five days before Christmas 1943, Brown was piloting a B-17 bomber over Bremen, Germany, looking to strike an aircraft plant. The plane took heavy fire. Its nose was shot off, its engines damaged.

    Spiraling toward earth with a dead tail gunner and nine other crew members, Brown -- himself shot in the shoulder -- regained control of the craft, broke formation and continued to take on German fighters.

    Then a German pilot, flying a Messerschmitt Bf-109, motioned for Brown to land his crippled plane. Brown defied the order, shaking his head.

    What happened next was unexpected: Instead of shooting down the bomber, the German pilot escorted Brown and his crew to the North Sea, saluted, rolled his plane in tribute and flew off.

    Brown's plane landed safely on the English coast.

    The Allies never revealed the German pilot's act, figuring he would be court-martialed and perhaps executed for failing to shoot down an enemy aircraft.

    For decades, Brown wondered about the German pilot -- through his post-war marriage to Delores, the birth of his two daughters in the 1950s, and well past his stint with the State Department during the Vietnam War.

    Brown retired from the military as a lieutenant colonel in the early 1970s. Then he moved to Miami, where he spent the next three decades toying around with combustible engines and inventing things like the ''Brown Air Charging System'' -- a device Brodie swears Brown attached to his car to get better gas mileage.

    With free time at hand, Brown began a search for the German pilot who spared his life. Not long after a 1986 story of the incident ran in a German newsletter, Brown found Franz Stigler, a German World War II ace living in Surrey, British Columbia, and still flying a Messerschmitt at air shows.

    The two met, compared notes and realized Stigler was the pilot. Stigler later said he didn't shoot down the plane because it was so badly damaged it would have been like shooting at a parachute.

    Stigler, who died in March, was a legend of the sky. Along with his 487 flights and 28 kills, he was shot down 17 times. From 1990 until Stigler's death earlier this year, he and Brown and their wives were exceptional friends, visiting each other at least twice a year.

    ''Charlie called him his big brother, and that about sums it up,'' said Stigler's 77-year-old widow, Helga Stigler.

    She said her husband had often wondered what happened to the American plane he escorted to sea -- a secret he kept from everyone but her.

    Brodie, the Veteran Affairs liaison, met Brown in 1995 after persuading him to tell his story to a South Miami-Dade Rotary Club. Brown took Stigler with him.

    ''There wasn't a dry eye in the house,'' Brodie said.

    In 2007, Brown and his crew received what had been long overdue: recognition. His story was told on the floor of Florida's House of Representatives. Soon after, the Air Force opened its archives on the incident.

    In February, the Air Force awarded Brown and the surviving crew members on that December 1943 flight Silver Stars for valor in combat. Brown also received the Air Force's second-highest honor, the Air Force Cross.

    In March, Brown's wife of 58 years, Delores, died. Brown succumbed to heart disease not long after, two days before Thanksgiving.

    ''He wasn't really the type to give up. But he was lost without her,'' said daughter Kimberly.

    Brown will be buried with full military honors Saturday. He is survived by daughters Carol Dawn Warner and Kimberly Arnstiger, and three grandchildren.


    FlexiBull
     
  2. machine shop tom

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Absolutely outstanding and touching.

    :salute:

    tom
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    20 December 1943

    GERMANY: US VIII Bomber Command Mission 159: The port area at Bremen, Germany was hit again. 357 of 407 B-17s, 103 of 127 B-24s and 12 of 12 PFF aircraft hit the target and claimed 21-14-23 Luftwaffe aircraft; 21 B-17s and 6 B-24s were lost; 3 B-17s were damaged beyond repair; 213 B-17s and 34 B-24s were damaged. Window-metal foil strips which, when dropped from an airplane, provided an echo which confused radar locating equipment, was used for the first time on an Eighth Air Force mission. This mission was escorted by 26 P-38s, 418 P-47s and 47 Ninth Air Force P-51s who claimed 19-3-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 P-47s and 4 P-51s were lost; 1 P-47 was damaged beyond repair and 5 P-47s were damaged. The Luftwaffe sent fighters from JG 1, JG 11, JG 26, JG 54, ZG 26, JG 2, JG 3, JG 27 and EKdo. 25. The first pass by the Germans was just at the IP southeast of Delmenhorst and bombers were hit by flak over the target. A second fighter attack began just after bombs away. Flak was heavy and accurate. I. and III./ZG 26 were very active with WR 21cm rockets, protected by single-engined fighters. The chaos was so great that B-17 crews reported that He 111s had attacked them as Bf 110G-2s were sitting out of bomber gunner range, lobbing rockets then closing in on the cripples. The 445th Bomb Group suffered it's first combat loss when 2Lt 'Buck' Patterson's aircraft was downed.
    .....The mission would have been recorded in the logbooks as just another mission if not for a unique event that wasn't revealed until decades later. Lt. Charles Brown was a B-17 pilot with the 379th BG and this was his first combat mission. After the bomb run, Brown and his B-17 - named 'Ye Old Pub' - were in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. Before 'bombs away', Brown's B-17 took hits that shattered the plexiglass nose, knocked out the #2 engine, damaged #4 - which frequently had to be throttles back to prevent overspeeding - and caused damage to the controls. Coming off target, 'Ye Old Pub' became a straggler. Almost immediately, the lone and limping B-17 came under fire from a series of attacks from 12 to 15 Bf 109s and Fw 190s that lasted for more than 10 minutes. The bomber's 11 guns were reduced by the extreme cold to only the 2 top turret guns and one forward nose gun. The tailgunner was killed and all but one of the crew were incapacitated by wounds or the frigid air. Lt. Brown had taken a bullet fragment to his shoulder. With 3 seriously injured onboard, he rejected bailing out or crash landing with the alternative a thin chance of reaching England. While nursing the battered bomber toward home, Lt. Brown noticed a Bf 109 flying off his wing. The pilot waved then flew across the B-17's nose and motioned for Brown to land in Germany, which Brown refused to do. After escorting them for several miles out over the North Sea, the Luftwaffe pilot saluted, rolled over and disappeared.
    ....Earlier, after Brown's B-17 had flown over his airfield, Oblt. Franz Steigler of 11./JG 27 was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When neared the bomber, Oblt. Steigler couldn't believe his eyes. In his words, he "had never seen a plane in such a bad state." The tail and rear section was severly damaged and the top gunner was all over the fuselage. The nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere. Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the bomber and looked at Lt. Brown. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane. Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved to Lt. Brown to turn 180 degrees. Franz then escorted the stricken plane over the North Sea towards England. He then saluted and turned away, back toward Germany.
    ....'Ye Old Pub' did make it across 250 miles of storm tossed North Sea and landed at Seething near the English coast, home of the 448th BG, which had not yet flown its first mission. When Franz landed, he told his CO that the plane had been shot down over the sea and never told the truth to anybody. Lt. Brown and the remainder of his crew told all at their briefing but were ordered never to talk about it. More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown and Franz Steigler met in the USA at a 379th BG reunion, together with 25 people who were alive - because Franz never fired his guns that day.

    I think there was an ealier thread - in 'War Stories' maybe - that dealt with this. I didn't know Lt. Brown died.

    :salute:
     
  4. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,592
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Hurst, Texas
    I've heard this story before (here, I think), but I'll never get tired of hearing it. Fair skies, Lt Brown. :salute: :salute:
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    have no idea how much Stigler collaborated with artist on this as Erich has already noted some errors but here is the first Print I saw on this.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    I just noticed something with that link from Roman. Check out all the profiles of Stigler's Bf 109. Each one is different!
     
  7. seesul

    seesul Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,519
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Zlin, Czech Republic
    Home Page:
    Yep, you´re right.
    And the pic in this thread is signed by both fliers...
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    and the one pic you posted has them next to another profile that looks like North Africa/ Med camo. Strange?
     
Loading...

Share This Page