Louis Loevsky, born 1920, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on December 26, 1941. He graduated Aviation Mechanic School and B-26 Specialist School, but "washed out!" of pilot training. He graduated Navigation School, Hondo, TX, November 1943 and joined the 8th Air Force 466th BG, stationed at Attlebridge, England.
"On March 22, 1944, the 466th BG flew their first mission ... to Berlin. Our B-24, "Terry and the Pirates" was hit by flak over the target, and we lost the #1 propeller. An ensuing mid-air collision caused "Terry" to lose props #2 and #3 as well. The other plane, also a B-24, named "The Brand," lost its tail, causing it to go into a tight spin.
"Between the two planes,13 of 20 crewmembers were KIA, five from 'Terry' and eight from 'Brand.'"
"Len Smith, the Bombardier on our plane, was trapped in the nose turret. The electrical and manual systems were rendered inoperable by the crash. The turret would not turn so that its doors could open to let Len out. Len had sustained substantial injury. To extricate Len from his predicament was most difficult since he was in shock and kept removing his gloves (at minus 35oF or below) and oxygen mask (at 23,500 ft). I had to put his mask and gloves back on repeatedly while trying to spring the nose turret door open, Finally I got an arm around his chest and pulled him out, and that was quite an achievement. After freeing Len we released the bombs in train.
"I got Len bailed out and heard our pilot, Bill Terry, yell, 'Hey, Lou, wait for me!' I waited while he left the control column and went out through the bomb bay.
"After I bailed, distrusting the Germans, I free-fell for a while. I saw a parachute open above me, which had to be Terry's. Then I remembered there was an 'H' ( for 'Jewish') on my dog tags. If I ripped them off and threw them away, with no tags I'd risk being shot as a spy if I fell into the hands of the Gestapo or S.S. If I left them on I'd risk being shot for being a Jew! I decided to leave them on.
"I also thought of the gross of condoms scattered in every pocket of all my uniforms. My parents will think they raised a sex fiend!"
"When I finally opened my parachute I realized I was being shot at from the ground. Slipping and spilling air, I became an instant expert in maneuvering the chute with the shroud lines, this despite constant admonitions to keep our 'cotton-pickin' hands' off them.
"I drifted away from the small camp they were shooting at me from and toward another small camp where they were not. I selected a small tree in Berlin, crossed my legs for posterity and crashed all the branches off one side of the tree, my chute caught on top, my feet whipped over my head. My back was injured, and I blacked out briefly and came to with toes just touching ground.
"A Home Guard (Volkstrum), his hand shaking, had a gun stuck in my ribs and kept repeating: 'Pis-tole?, Pis-tole?' Then two Wehrmacht troops appeared and took over my custody. While I was still getting out of my parachute harness three S.S. showed up as well, apparently from the small camp where they had been shooting at me. The S.S. and the Wehrmacht argued over who should take custody of me. (Since my parents sometimes spoke Yiddish in the house, I could understand what they were saying.) Finally the Wehrmacht won.
"As they marched me through the streets of Berlin to their headquarters, an angry civilian mob appeared and began yelling, in perfect AMERICAN, 'String him up! Hang him! Lynch him.' They wanted a necktie party. The Wehrmacht troopers had to draw their sidearms to keep them at bay. (I believe Bill Terry was shot from the ground as he floated down in his parachute.)
"I was then a POW at Stalag Luft III Sagan, Germany until the Russians started getting close in January 1945. We were evacuated at 2:00 a.m. in a freezing blizzard and moved to Stalag VII A in Moosburg. We were marched out in sub-zero weather and eventually crammed into 40' x 8') boxcars. We were inadequately clothed and underfed; the conditions were unsanitary and the treatment inhumane. Imagine hundreds of American officers and enlisted men lined up, evacuating their bowels when the train stopped at a station, in full view of German women and children.
"We were liberated by General Patton's troops on April 29, 1945. Joe Greenberg, flight engineer on 'Terry and the Pirates,' folded his wings in early 1993. Fifty-five years after the mid-air collision, the three survivors of both crews are C. Wayne Beigel (Brand), Len Smith and Lou Loevsky (Terry). I live in North Caldwell, NJ with a lovely lady, my sexy wife, Molly."
Lou Loevsky was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, on January 12, 1999, 55 years after the two doomed B-24s collided over Berlin on March 22, 1944.