Retired aviator cited for WWII bravery

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  1. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    Retired aviator cited for WWII bravery

    Retired aviator cited for WWII bravery

    He was a waist gunner in a B-17 aircraft that made the first daylight raid on Berlin.

    Edward L. Cardenas / The Detroit News

    SHELBY TOWNSHIP -- Retired U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. James Marbry was among the first members of the Army Air Force to see Berlin as his B-17 swooped in for a bombing raid of the German capital in March 1944.

    Nearly 64 years later, he's finally received recognition for that harrowing mission to push deep into German territory during daylight.

    The 84-year-old Shelby Township veteran received his Distinguished Flying Cross Sunday Selfridge Air National Guard Base for his efforts as a ball turret gunner aboard the B-17 bomber named "Dreambaby."

    The honor came about when a grandson of a crewmate began asking his grandfather about his service medals in 2004. Soon, an effort was started to get the entire crew the Distinguished Flying Cross, a medal given to those who "exhibit heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight," according to the Air Force.

    Marbry received his medal before a contingent that included his grandson, Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Marbry, who flew home from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

    "It's important that we recognize this passing generation and their sacrifices before they are gone. Their sacrifices enable us to enjoy the freedoms we have today," said Col. David Miller, Selfridge vice-commander.

    Shortly after the Berlin mission for which he was honored, he was transferred to another bomber that was sent on a Memorial Day raid in 1944 just days before the D-Day invasion.

    His job on that raid was to bomb a fighter plane factory deep in Germany. But a Luftwaffe fighter hit his B-17 with a 20 mm machine gun fire between the third and fourth engine. The bullet tore into the wing and started a fire on the bomber, which was flying at an altitude of 26,500 feet.

    Marbry, who was a radio operator on that flight, knew he had 90 seconds to get out.

    He deployed his parachute and landed just before pieces of the plane came raining down around him. He learned that four members of the crew died in the crash, and a few hours later he was taken prisoner by the Germans. After 11 months, was finally liberated by a unit attached to Gen. George Patton's Third Army.

    "It was a quite an experience," he said. "I wish I could give you all the feelings I have about the men that didn't come back."
     
  2. Bf109_g

    Bf109_g Member

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    Well done :salute:
     
  3. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I'm glad he got his medal while he was still alive. Sometimes that don't
    happen.

    Charles
     
  4. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  5. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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  7. Keith M

    Keith M New Member

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    I love this story, apparently this happened in march of 1944, my grandfather S/SGT Harold Jernigan was ball turret gunner in May of that year on the same plane. The 381st Log shows he took out an fw190 on the 11th of may.
    Was it common for individual crew members to be transfered to other aircraft?

    Thanks
    Keith
     
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