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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
Today is Memorial Day and I am thinking of my Pop Pop John Thrash. He was a war hero whose plane was shot down in World War Two. Pop Pop passed last year.
Pop Pop is my hero. I am very grateful for our time together. He will always be my hero.
Here the story about what happened to him on March 15, 1945 in his own words..
“Our target was Oranienburg (about 2o miles northwest of Berlin). Shortly after the bomb drop, I saw black anti-aircraft smoke burst approximately 200 yards closer at our level. Our pilot, Charles H. Carpenter, told me to see what damage we had. I got on my walk around oxygen bottle and went through the bomb bay and the radio room to access the damage. Our waste gunner, Walter Ahl, was lying face up and dead. His whole right side was blown off. There was a large hole in the right side of the plane at the waste large enough to put a jeep into it, and three large holes in the left side of the waste. Lloyd Shelton and Robert Hinders were stunned by the explosion. Bob Kinzel backed out of his ball turret and nearly stepped out of the large hole on the right side. Our pilot had to drop our of formation because of the damage. I told the pilot that all the cables going to the tail and rudder assembly were torn. The pilot had to control the plain with only the engine throttles. Luckily, we did not encounter and German aircraft. We landed near dusk at Woodbridge, Air Field. The only was we could lose altitude was to throttle back and let the plane descend. At landing, the air speed was 210 MPH: and at the last second the pilot shoved all four throttles at maximum to lift up the nose of the plane. We slammed down on the runway, and the plane broke in half. Kindle, Shelton and Hinders were in the radio room. I was behind the pilot seat, and when we slammed into the runway I hit my head on the armor plate on the back of the pilot seat and received a laceration on the right side of my forehead. Hinders received a contusion on the spine from the bomb blast. We both spent the night in the hospital.