War

Sometime good things happen in War….


73 Years ago over Germany

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision. “My God, this is a nightmare,” the co-pilot said. “He’s going to destroy us,” the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany . Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn’t pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War Il.

 Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.

 Stigler wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family’s ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest. A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany.  If someone reported him, he would be executed.

 Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: “You follow the rules of war for you — not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your  humanity.”

 Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany .

 “Good luck,” Stigler said to himself. “You’re in God’s hands now…” Franz Stigler didn’t think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.

 As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn’t thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plane, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.

Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.

Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed. Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life?  He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a pilots’ reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.

 On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: “Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy…”

 It was Stigler.

 He had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous  businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and “it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.”  Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn’t wait to see Stigler. He called
directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.

 “My God, it’s you!” Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.

 Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: “To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crew members and their families appears totally inadequate.”

The two pilots would meet again, but this time in person, in the lobby of a Florida hotel. One of Brown’s friends was there to
record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other’ arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.

The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily-accented English: “I love you, Charlie.”

Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived.

The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz.  It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.

They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.

Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together.  They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans’ reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.

Brown’s daughter says her father would worry about Stigler’s health and constantly check in on him.

“It wasn’t just for show,” she says. “They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week.” As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says “The nightmares went away.”

Charles Brown had written a letter of thanks to Franz Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.

During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived — children, grandchildren, relatives — because of Stigler’s act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.

“Everybody was crying, not just him”  Dawn Warner says.

Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.

After Stigler died, Dawn Warner was searching through her fathers’ library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.

Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Franz Stigler had written to
Charlie Brown:

In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December,

4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her
destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.

The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my brother was.

Thanks Charlie.

Your  Brother,   

Franz

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Categories: America's German war, Germany, Nazi Germany, Nazi's, Uncategorized, War, WWII | 2 Comments

More statistics than you ever wanted to know about the Vietnam War…


SOBERING STATISTICS FOR THE VIETNAM WAR 

vietnam

 

In case you haven’t been paying attention these past few decades after you returned from Vietnam, the clock has been ticking. The following are some statistics that are at once depressing yet in a larger sense should give you a huge sense of pride. 

 

“Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, Less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age approximated to be 60 years old.” 

 

So, if you’re alive and reading this, how does it feel to be among the last 1/3rd of all the U.S. Vets who served in Vietnam? I don’t know about you guys, but it kinda gives me the chills, Considering this is the kind of information I’m used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets… 

 

So the last 14 years we are dying too fast, only the few will survive by 2025…if any.. If true, 390 VN vets die a day. so in 2190 days…from today, lucky to be a Vietnam veteran alive… in only 6-10 years.. 

 

These statistics were taken from a variety of sources to include: The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer – 1st Recon April 12, 1997. 

 

*STATISTICS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY VIETNAM VETERANS: * 

 

9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975). 

 

8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964-March 28, 1973). 

 

2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, this number represents 9.7% of their generation. 

 

3,403,100 (Including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,  flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters). 

 

2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1, 1965 – March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964. 

 

Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack. 

 

7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam. 

 

Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1968). 

 

Agent Orange is taking a huge toll on Vietnam Veterans with most deaths somehow related to Agent Orange exposure. No one officially dies of Agent Orange, they die from the exposure which causes ischemic Heart Disease and failure, Lung Cancer, Kidney failure or COPD related disorders. 

 

CASUALTIES:

 

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him. 

 

Hostile deaths: 47,378 

Non-hostile deaths: 10,800 

Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total. 

 

8 nurses died — 1 was KIA. 

 

61% of the men killed were 21 or younger. 

 

11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old. 

 

Of those killed, 17,539 were married. 

 

Average age of men killed: 23.1 years 

Enlisted: 50,274; 22.37 years 

Officers: 6,598; 28.43 years 

Warrants: 1,276; 24.73 years 

E1: 525; 20.34 years 

Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old. 

The oldest man killed was 62 years old. 

 

Highest state death rate: West Virginia – 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970). 

 

Wounded: 303,704 — 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care. 

 

Severely disabled: 75,000, — 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. 

 

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea. 

 

Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII. 

 

Missing in Action: 2,338 

 

POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity) 

 

As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for, from the Vietnam War. 

 

DRAFTEES VS. VOLUNTEERS:

 

25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII). 

 

Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam. 

 

Reservists killed: 5,977 

 

National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died. 

 

Total draftees (1965 – 73): 1,728,344. 

 

Actually served in Vietnam: 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633. 

 

Last man drafted: June 30, 1973. 

 

RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND:

 

88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races. 

 

86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 

 

12.5% (7,241) were black;

 

1.2% belonged to other races. 

 

170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there. 

 

70% of enlisted men killed were of North-west European descent. 

 

86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races. 

 

14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks. 

 

34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms. 

 

Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population. 

 

Religion of Dead: Protestant — 64.4%; Catholic — 28.9%; other/none — 6.7% 

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS: 

 

Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups. 

 

Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. 

 

76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds. 

 

Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds. 

 

Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations. 

 

79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service. 

 

63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation. 

 

Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South — 31%, West –29.9%; Midwest — 28.4%; Northeast — 23.5%. 

 

DRUG USAGE & CRIME: 

 

There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group. 

(Source: Veterans Administration Study) 

 

Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes. 

 

85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life. 

 

WINNING & LOSING:

 

82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will. 

 

Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not of arms. 

 

HONORABLE SERVICE:

 

97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.

 

91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country. 

 

74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome. 

 

87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem. 

 

INTERESTING CENSUS STATISTICS:

 

1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive as of August, 1995 (census figures). 

 

As of the current Census taken during August, 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam Veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe, losing nearly 711,000 between ’95 and ’00. That’s 390 per day.  

 

The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this erred index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense. (All names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365). 

 

Isolated atrocities committed by American Soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists who did so received commendations. 

 

From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers.

Categories: Uncategorized, vietnam war, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They gave their lives….Can you give $1


Fresh out of High School, Michigan boys joined the fight in South Vietnam.
2,654 gave their lives in Combat. The Michigan Vietnam Freedom Wall in
Belding, Michigan will honor their sacrifice with thier names inscribed

in the 7 foot by 40 foot granite wall. In the middle of the 10′ circle will be a bronze monument of the field cross (the rifle, the helmet, and the boots). Surrounding the interior of the Vietnam monument will be bricks with the names of the people who wish to sponsor a Vietnam vet of their own.
Is the memory of these young men worth $1 to keep and cherish?
Please help with your donation to bring this wonderfull momument a reality and maintain the memory of these who have
given the ultimate sacrifice.
If everyone reading this would only dontate $1 to this cause, the finacial goal would be reached in a very short time.
Would the memory of one of Your loved ones be worth a $1 ???

http://www.gofundme.com/beldingfreedomwall

Categories: vietnam war, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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