Gerald A. Duval was born and raised in Minnesota. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in November 1942, and in World War II he served as radio operator and left waist gunner on a b-24 bomber in the 459th Bomb Group. After being shot down over Steyre, Austria, he was confined to German Prisoner of War camps through the rest of the war.
He was laid In the first labor camp without medical aid except for a limp body cast. He was supplied with no food or medicine.
He and his wife Themla live in Panama City, Beach, Florida. Following is an excerpt from his book, Wings and Barbed Wire, his first-hand account of his World War II experience as an aviator who was shot down over Austria and taken prisoner by the Germans.
"The feeling of being pinned to the fuselage of a rapidly spinning bomber is one of impending doom. There was no way I could break the grip that mother nature applied. From the small window near the camera hatch I could see the world going into wild gyrations.
"The whoosh whoosh of the rapidly spinning aircraft testified to the fact that we were out of control. There was no chance of recovery. Try as I might I could not raise my chin from my chest where it was pressed so firmly. If I were on the flight deck at my regular duty station there would have been a chance. The mountain tops were getting closer. I could see them better as I said goodbye to my Mom. Instinctively at a time like this, the goodbyes are always for Mom. She is the closest blood tie. When death is staring you in the face, it's always Mom who is there with you. I realized that without a parachute and unable to open the camera hatch I did not stand a chance.
"Suddenly a strange kind of peace came over me. I no longer struggled to survive. I was resigned to my fate. There was blood on the faces of my crew members. They appeared in a state of shock. Everything was moving in slow motion, the mountain tops were getting closer........Goodbye Mom!!!!"
Message to Future Generations:
The Message Gerald Duval would like to leave future generations is in his book Wings and Barbed Wire
. (Available through Amazon.Com