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Last Name:
SMITH
First Name Middle Initial:
JOHN S
Nick Name:
'JACK'
Street:  3821 CAMINO CAPISTRANO (NE) City & State: ALBUQUERQUE, NM E-Mail: 
Zip: 87111 Phone:  Spouse: NORA J
Conflict: WWII Service Branch: Air Force Unit: 11AF 404 BS
Theater: ETO Where Captured: RUSSIA Date Captured: 05/10/45
Camps Held In: PETROPAVLOVSK TASHKENT SIBERIA How Long Interned: 90 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 08/08/45 Age at Capture: 20
Medals Received: AIR MEDAL
Military Job: FLIGHT OFFICER Company:
Occupation after War: 

 

Bio:

Americans Home From Siberia

On October 2, 1992, the secretary of the Air Force acknowledge and honored a unique group of WWII Veterans.

A little know story of WWII was the relationship of the U.S. and Russia during the time prior to Russia declaring war on Japan. According to International Law, Russia was a neutral country and was obliged to intern personnel of warring nations if they were within the control of Russian armed forces.

Until the mid 1980’s, the activities 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 China, and were instantly interned. Over the next three years thirty six other crews, for a total of 291 Americans met the same fate. With the exception of 4 B-29 crews of the 29th Air Force, these airmen were members of the old Army Air Corps and Navy Air Wing 4 form 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.

Mr. 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.

SmithJohn_Burial.JPG (70758 bytes)

Burial Of A POW In May 1945 On Winters Mission In Petropavlousky,
Kamchatke With Lt. Kleinkes B-24 Crew And Lt. Winters B-25 Crew

Click Here to see the routes taken by Lt. Kleinkes and Lt. Winters crews while a POW

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