"On October 2, 1992, the Secretary of the Air Force acknowledge and honored a unique group of WWII Veterans.
"A little-known story of WWII was the relationship betweem the U.S. and Russia prior to Russia's declaring war on Japan (Aug 8, 1945). According to International Law, Russia as a neutral country was obliged to intern personnel of warring nations if they were within the control of Russian armed forces.
"Until the mid 1980s, the disposition of these airmen was highly classified.
"It all started with the famous Doolittle Raiders. One crew, Lt. York's, due to a fuel shortage, landed north of Valdivoltok instead of in China and were instantly interned. Over the next three years thirty-six other crews, a total of 291 Americans, met the same fate. With the exception of four B-29 crews of the 29th Air Force, these airmen were members of the old Army Air Corps and Navy Air Wing 4 from the Aleutian Islands. They were flying missions against the Japanese Kurile Islands.
"In case of aircraft damage the preplanned escape route was to Petropovlavsk, Kamchatke Peninsula. "Petro" was a holding point until a group became large enough to move across Siberia to another holding point at Tashkent Russia. The trip across Siberian R.R. to flying in old C-47 is with Russian crews. All in all, five separate groups were held and released by various methods. The last group, of which I was a member was released after the war had ended.
"The survivors of the ordeal have formed an organization known as the "Americans Home from Siberia" and are a part of the Eleventh Air Force Association.
"On October 3, 1992 at the banquet following the 11th Air Force Reunion, Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney made a surprise presentation of the P.O.W. medal to the members that were present, recognizing them 47 years after the fact."
Otis Hays Jr. has written and published an outstanding book that tells the story as it really happened. Home From Siberia - the secret odyssey of interned airmen in WWII(Texas A&M University Press). (Available from Amazon.)
This map shows a routes taken by Internee Group 4 and 5, which was made up of three Army Crews, one Navy Crew, the final Seven Army Crews, and Lt. Winters's crew.
This map shows the routes taken by
Internee Groups 1 and 2, consisting of Lt. York's crew, Pottenger's crew, and seven additional Army crews.
This is a Map is of Internee Group 5, which was made up of ten Navy crews, four B-29 crews, and three additional Army crews.