At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, George Harris was a student at New York University and worked at the New York Daily News. In early 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and went to Miami Beach for basic training. He trained at Scott Field, IL as a radio operator and Harlingen, TX as a gunner. He was assigned to a crew in Washington state, and they were given a new B-17G, which they named Miss America.
Osnabruck was the target of George's 16th mission, on Dec, 22, 1943. The Jagdgeschwager 26, an elite Luftwaffe squadron flying yellow-nosed ME-109s and FW-190s, met his plane over that target. With engines 3 and 4 hit and on fire, the crew bailed out 23,000 feet over the North Sea. But a strong headwind blew them back into occupied Holland. The Dutch underground found George, but he was eventually captured by the German SS. After interrogation, he was sent to Krems, Austria and placed in Stalag 17, barracks 40-A.
George often said the one thing that kept him and the other POWs going was constant planning to escape. After one escape attempt he was captured and placed in front of a firing squad, but was saved by a German Captain named Von Mueller. George later learned that the Captain had married an American woman around 1920 and had two American sons. Perhaps Von Mueller felt by saving an American he could be saving one of his own sons. George was later sent to Stalag Luft 1, Stalag Luft 6 and Stalag Luft 4. On Feb. 6, 1945, he and other POWs were put on a forced march to Berlin, Hanover and Halle.
George was liberated on April 26, 1945 and transported to Camp Lucky Strike. On his return to the US, he was hospitalized in Atlantic City for jaundice and malnutrition and given an Honorable Discharge. He achieved the rank of T/SGT and was awarded two Purple Hearts, an Oak Leaf Cluster for shooting down a German ME-109 and the POW Medal.
As a civilian, George stayed in the aviation business, working on projects that supplied CRT deflection components for military aircraft. He married Judy Bomser on Mar. 2, 1947. They had two sons (Barry & Stuart) and four grandchildren (Amy, Caryn, Stevie and Evan). After raising their family in Fair Lawn, NJ, they moved to Pompano Beach, FL in 1991.