"Flying High In Iowa" is the history of an IOWA farm boy. What life was during the depression. A pilot flying a B-24 Bomber in World War II. Shot down over Germany and Prisoner of War. Marrying the "love of his life" whom he met while stationed in Wyoming. Farmed, operated numerous companies, imported cattle, went broke, lost everything, started all over again. Raising special handicapped child, lost his "love" to breast cancer. Starting life again with new friends and new things. Author is 76 years young and wrote the book the way he lived it.
Howard W. Greiner, Pilot
Edmond B. Knoll, Co-Pilot
Henry E, Holm, Navigator
John Spissinger, Engineer
Ernest Ratliff, Tail Gunner
Frank Korycanek, Radio Operator
Andrew Swartz, L Waist Gunner
Richard Maki, Nose Gunner
Robert Shaddy, R Waist Gunner
This summary was compiled by Bill Macki, brother of Richard Maki (nose gunner), using the pilot's recollections, the US Air Force MACR (Missing Air Crew Report), and copies of the German reports.)
The engineer came forward and reported a fire. To quote the Pilot, "I turned the flying over to the co-pilot and crawled down into the bomb bay. Looking up into the wing I could see fire by the gas tanks. On a B-24 you have a whole group of transfer hoses above the bomb bay and these had been cut and there was gasoline on the bomb bay doors. It was easy to see that this thing could explode at any time. I shouted to the engineer to go to the waist and have them all bail out. I gave him the order and then I went back to the flight check grabbed the co-pilot's arm and told him to abandon ship. I went down to the nose and got the nose gunner and we jettisoned the nose wheel door and the two of us bailed out."
The navigator was in the waist trying to help the injured tail gunner when the engineer and the radio operator came back with the order to bail out. The navigator went forward to get his chute and found the co-pilot sill in his seat trying to keep the plane under control.
He told the co-pilot to bail out and went out of the nose thinking the co-pilot would follow him. The tail gunner was badly wounded by flak and his chute was damaged. He was near the left waist window under some blankets. The radio operator and the engineer tried to find a spare chute but couldn't because of the flames and smoke. The engineer saw the two waist gunners sitting by the escape hatch, which he had opened, but they looked dumbfounded.
After an explosion the radio operator dove out through the rear escape hatch. The engineer followed him out after a second explosion. But the other three did not get out. As he navigator was flowing down with his chute he thought the engineer and radio operator left the plane as it exploded because he saw two chutes open. The co-pilot made to attempt to bail out. The plane crashed near the small town of Lubbbecke, a few miles west of Minden.
An older German solider and two young ones were ordered to take the Pilot, Navigator, Richard and five other prisoners to the town of Oberursel, just north of Frankfurt. Oberursel had the interrogation center for Dulag 1 and the prisoner of war hospital was located in Hohemark.
They had to do a lot of walking, so the navigator and Richard supported the pilot as they hobbled along. The sometimes rode in trucks, slept in barns, traveled by train and more walking. The German soldiers traveling with them had to protect the prisoners from some of the angry civilians, especially in train stations.
The pilot did not spend time in a prison camp but ended up in the German Hospital at Hohemark. He was liberated by the US 3rd Army's 5th Division Reconnaissance Troop on March 29k after a German medic slipped through Nazi lines with word that there were prisoners at the hospital. No information has yet been found as to where Richard was imprisoned. He wouldn't talk about it after he came home except to say he wasn't physically and that a lot of the food had maggots and otherwise was pretty bad. He said the guards had to eat the same food.
On his questionnaire, Richard said he saw the pilot in Frankfort for the last time and after he was liberated he met the navigator at Camp Lucky Strike in France. Camp Lucky Strike was used to take care of liberated prisoners of war until they could be sent on their way home to the US.
The Mission Report and the Group Gunnery Officer Reported stated: The enemy aircraft made one pass and Greiner's plane was seen with one landing gear down, smoking and losing altitude. Several crews reported he made it back, with fighter support, as far as Dummer Lake where it exploded.
The pilot, Howard Greiner, at the age of 76, wrote an autobiography titled, "Flying High Over Iowa." He devoted a few chapters to his WWII experience. (Available on Amazon.)
Howard W. Greiner Crew
466th BG - 785th BS
Standing Left to Right: Ernest Ratliff (TG), Frank Korycanek (R/O), Andrew Swartz (NG), Richard Maki (WG/NG), John Spissinger (FE), Robert Shaddy (BTG/RWG),
Sitting Left to Right: Henry E. Holm (N), Howard W. Greiner (P), Edmund B. Knoll (CP), Ballinger (B)
This crew was shot down on their 2nd mission, 2 March 1945. Knoll, Swartz, Shaddy and Ratliff were KIA.