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S/SGT  William D. BROOKS

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: TG

William D. Brooks TG on Capt Woodward Crew

SERIAL #: 37431271 STATUS: POW
MACR: 00688 CR: 00688

Comments1: 6 SEP 43 STUTTGART (Original Crew #33)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
               1ST LT EDGAR F. WOODWARD, JR.

CREW #33   A/C #42-5860 "Escape Kit"                  MACR #688

1ST LT  EDGAR WOODWARD, JR               P; INT      6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
F/O     JOHN H., THOMPSON                    CP; POW   6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
2ND LT  EMANUEL A. CASSIMATIS          NAV; POW   6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
2ND LT  ROBERT E. DIBBLE                    BOM; KIA   15 AUG 43 MERVILLE AF
S/SGT   FRANK DANELLA                       TTE; POW   6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
T/SGT   MELVIN E. GAIDE                     ROG; POW    6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
S/SGT   CHARLES J. GRIFFIN                  WG; POW     6 SEP 43 STUTTGART    
S/SGT   GEORGE A. JANOS                   BTG; POW     6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
S/SGT   WILLIAM D. BROOKS                 TG; POW     6 SEP 43 STUTTGART
S/SGT   DONALD H. FLETCHER              WG; POW      6 SEP 43 STUTTGART

NOTES:  THIS IS AN "ORIGINAL CREW" OF THE 100TH BOMB GROUP.

ON 6 SEP 43, LT PAUL L. ENGLERT WHOSE CREW (#30 Lt William Flesh) WAS LOST ON THE 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG MISSION AS BOMBARDIER AND BECAME A POW.

Crew #33 418th Sqdn.       MACR #688 Microfiche #227

 Mission: Stuttgart       A/C#'42-30402 (POONTANG)
 Date: 6 Sept.1943
 Time. 0930

Capt.Edgar F.Woodward,Jr.               P  INTERNEE 
F/O John H.Thompson                     CP  POW 
2nd Lt Emanuel A.Cassimatis           NAV  POW
1st Lt Paul L,Englert                      BOM  POW
  T/Sgt Frank Danella                     TTE   POW
  T/Sgt Melvin E.Gaide                   ROG   POW
  S/Sgt George A.Janos                  BTG   POW
  S/Sgt Donald H.Fletcher               RWG  POW
  S/Sgt Charles J.Griffin                  LWG  POW
  S/Sgt William D.Brooks                  TG  POW

Eyewitness accounts:

"Saw Woodward's ship going down at 4830N-0803E at 0929  #2 engine was windmilling. everything else seemed to be OK."
                                                     Walter U. "Chief" Moreno  1st Lt.

"Saw Capt. Woodward's A/C turned out of formation under control and headed for Switzerland. Nothing seemed wrong with A/C,"
                                                     John D. Brady, 1st Lt.

"A/C #402 at 0930 approximately 2 miles north of Strasbourg salvoed bombs into a woods. Headed south and went under cloud deck.All engines turning over. No E/A or AA at this time."
                                                     Gale W.Cleven,Major, 350th BS C.O.

A letter from D.H.Fletcher of 25/1/84 states that on the way into the target, an oil leak in #2 engine. Woodward could then have aborted,but decided to press on.Somewhere near the IP oil pressure went to zero and prop would not feather - cylinder head temp. went sky high. If engine seized and prop came off it could have been disastrous to ship.It was decided to head south for Switzerland. When they believed themselves over Switzerland,the crew bailed. It turned out that only Woodward, who remained with aircraft until the crew had successfully bailed out, landed in Switzerland,the others in Germany.

See S.O.C. p.19


EDGAR WOODWARD WAS ON THE "ADDRESS UNKNOWN"  V.A. LIST FOR MANY YEARS, BUT AS OF 1993 HE RESIDES IN ALEXANDER, VA .  HE WAS CONTACTED  BY THE 100TH SPLASHER SIX EDITIOR  HARRY H. CROSBY.CREW


T/SGT GAIDE WAS IN Stalag 17B Braunau Gneikendorf Near Krems Austria 48-15.

MEMO 2:

Pilot feared engine would seize up, Crew # tried to jump over Switzerland, but only Pilot landed in Switzerland,

Following tribute by Son In Law Jeff Clow

Ever since I met your daughter and first saw this photo, the same thought crossed my mind again and again.

How did you do it, Sgt. Brooks?

How did you get back into that B-17 Flying Fortress seventeen more times after that first flight?

The first time was frightful - but you didn't know that first time how it felt to have a Luftwaffe Messerschmidt blasting away at your waist gunner's side window with nothing between the two of you besides a thin layer of easily penetrated steel.  You didn't know that first time how it felt to be at a warm base in England at 3:30 a.m. and then be fighting for your life in the skies over Europe six hours later.

You knew how to shoot, but you'd never had to defend yourself before with a machine gun against scores of enemy planes that were diving from all directions and were close enough for you to see the faces of the determined pilots whose mission was to bring your plane down.

And then there was the flak - so heavy that when you looked ahead it looked like not a soul could survive the thousands of explosions that covered the sky. 

But you didn't scream and you didn't cry and you and your crew flew forward into the fray because someone had to do it.

The first time was brutal but the next seventeen are too hard for me to imagine.  You knew what you faced and you went up voluntarily again and again and again.

You went up again after attending a funeral of your friend, the bombardier who was just in front of you in the plane, and whose head you cradled as he lay dying on the floor of the B-17.  

You felt his last heartbeat and heard his last breath.  

How did you do it?

You went up and you must have stared straight ahead knowing that the odds were stacked completely against you and that it was only a matter of time before it was your turn to pay the price.

You went up after a burning piece of shrapnel had wounded you and burned your flesh - enough to hurt like hell but not enough to keep you from your next mission.

How did you do it?

You went back up when every time you returned to base, there were a dozen empty bunks in the hut that you shared with other B-17 crews.

You watched ground personnel empty the foot lockers of the lost and you saw it happen again and again...and again.

But you went back up.  You didn't call in sick.  You didn't ask to be put on desk duty.  You didn't falter when your country needed you to accomplish a task that might be the difference between winning and losing a battle - and a war.

You laid in bed at night and surely couldn't get the sounds out of your head.  The explosions, the rattle of the guns, the whirring of the propellers, the sudden lift when bombs away was called... and the turn back to base as the fighters descended in a desperate attempt to cripple you beyond relief.

How did you do it, Sgt. Brooks?

And on that eighteenth mission, when the enemy finally set your plane on fire - how did you jump out of a burning B-17 with only seconds to spare.  How did you look out at the countryside as you floated down and wonder if you were parachuting to sudden death in the air - or painful torture on the ground when the Gestapo tracked you down?

How did you survive two years in Stalag 17 with little to eat and no hope for rescue for many long months?

Today's generation complains loudly when they have to stand in line, or when their safe travel plans are disrupted by weather.  They complain that the steak is too rare or that the sundae doesn't have enough nuts.

A hardship for them is a delay on the freeway due to construction.

Their worst day is better than your best days throughout the war.

But you did your duty and you came back and lived a complete life.  You raised a family.  You worked hard and paid your taxes.  You never talked about the war.

You were a citizen warrior and you did what was asked of you.  Quietly.  Without fanfare.

You did it as a volunteer - for the millions back in the States who never felt the hiss of a bullet as it whizzed past your goggles so close that you felt the heat.

I do not know how you did it.
  How you did it again and again when you knew - truly knew - that you were likely to be killed every time you went into that Flying Fortress.

You are a hero to me, Sgt. Brooks.  Not for that first flight, but for the seventeen flights afterwards when you voluntarily went back up in harm's way with death knocking on your door.

As a grateful citizen, I'll admire what you did for the rest of my life.

But today, as tears stream down my face while I think of a young man laying in that bunk and then getting up and facing death daily on behalf of my country, I still can't answer the question.

How DID you do it?

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Stuttgart DATE: 1963-09-06  
AIRCRAFT: "Poontang" (42-30402) CAUSE: Lost Oil Pressure  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

MIA notice sent to Family of William Brookes

Edgar Woodward Crew (left to right) Photo in front of Escape Kit 
Standing: Charles J. Griffin, William D. Brooks, Melvin E. Gaide, Donald H. Fletcher, George A. Janos, Unknown
Kneeling: Robert E.Dibble (KIA 15 Aug 43), John H. Thompson, Edgar F. Woodward, Jr., Emanuel Cassimatis
100th BG Photo Archives
  

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 557