The twenty-seven stories in this book serve as a graphic reminder of the selfless heroism of America's World War II Army Air Forces flyers and how necessary they were to achieve Allied victory. Wolfgang Samuel and the pilots he interviewed reveal the peril these men faced to achieve a daunting task, impossible without their bravery. And their sacrifices were stunning--American bomber crews suffered the highest casualties (KIA, MIA, POW, wounded) of all American armed services in World War II. The stories preserved in this book bear that grave danger out. A member of a heavy bomber crew in the 8th Air Force in the period from mid-1942 to spring 1944 was less likely to survive than a US Marine fighting on Iwo Jima or Okinawa. The stories in this unique book are about men who went face to face with their adversaries, who saw their buddies die, who crashed planes, and who became prisoners of war. Many later went on to become the backbone of the postwar Air Force, serving in Korea and Vietnam and during the Cold War. Young Ken Chilstrom led a flight of eight A-36 fighter bombers on a low-level foray in Italy. Only he and two others came home. Bob Hoover thought he could take on the entire German air force, but on his first mission he was shot down, nearly perished, and suffered the remainder of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp. Wolfgang Samuel's new book is all about men like Ken, Bob, and the many friends they lost, who saw World War II through to the end and gave freedom to so many others.
This was the first book to cover all of Cold War air combat in the words of the men who waged it. In I Always Wanted to Fly, retired United States Air Force Colonel Wolfgang W. E. Samuel has gathered first-person memories from heroes of the cockpits and airstrips.Battling in dogfights when jets were novelties, saving lives in grueling airlifts, or flying covert and dangerous reconnaissance missions deep into Soviet and Chinese airspace, these flyers waged America's longest and most secretively conducted air war.Many of the pilots Samuel interviewed invoke the same sentiment when asked why they risked their lives in the air- I always wanted to fly. While young, they were inspired by barnstormers, by World War I fighter legends, by the legendary Charles Lindbergh, and often just by seeing airplanes flying overhead. With the advent of World War II, many of these dreamers found themselves in cockpits soon after high school. Of those who survived World War II, many chose to continue following their dream, flying the Berlin Airlift, stopping the North Korean army during the forgotten war in Korea, and fighting in the Vietnam War.Told in personal narratives and reminiscences, I Always Wanted to Fly renders views from pilots' seats and flight decks during every air combat flashpoint from 1945 to 1968. Drawn from long exposure to the immense stress of warfare, the stories these warriors share are both heroic and historic. The author, a veteran of many secret reconnaissance missions, evokes individuals and scenes with authority and grace. He provides clear, concise historical context for each airman's memories. In I Always Wanted to Fly, he has produced both a thrilling and inspirational acknowledgment of personal heroism and a valuable addition to our documentation of the Cold War.
Watsons Whizzers is the complex story of the meticulously planned and executed disarmament of the Luftwaffe after its defeat in the spring of 1945, and the retrieval and transfer to the United States of Germanys advanced aeronautical technology and world-class scientists. Technology so superior that it would in short measure change the look of United States air forces. Although General Spaatz in May 1945 had under his command 17,000 planes of all kinds, the largest air armada ever assembled , they were of little future use. The future was about swept wing aircraft flying at supersonic speeds, or close to it: the incomparable Boeing B-47 jet bomber and its successor the eight jet B-52; the North American F-86 fighter and its supersonic successor the F-100 Supersaber were the immediate results of the German technology transfer and secured Americas future in the darkest days of the Cold War.
Glory Days is the untold story of an airplane and its brave flyers who valiantly served our nation in time of war. The two EB-66 equipped combat squadrons flying from bases in Thailand against North Vietnam earned the Presidential Unit Citation for valor in combat, numerous Outstanding Unit Awards with V-device, and equivalent U.S. Navy citations. EB-66 flyers earned Silver Stars and Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism, Air Medals galore, and too many Purple Hearts attesting to their courage and sacrifice. This then is their gripping story untold for far too long.
In his acclaimed memoir German Boy: A Refugee's Story, Wolfgang W. E. Samuel relates his experiences as a child surviving war and its hellish aftermath in occupied Germany. On January 24, 1951, exactly six years after his traumatic flight from Russian tanks, Samuel finds himself standing at the railing of a ship taking him to the land of his dreams--America. Coming to Colorado is the story of a refugee from war and deprivation, who at age sixteen, not understanding a word of English and with barely an eighth-grade education, leaves behind all that is familiar. Scarred by the violence, rape, and death he has seen, Samuel must first learn to be a boy again. But every relationship he tries to build must overcome the specter of his childhood experience in World War II and the chaos that followed.Shortly after his arrival in Colorado, Samuel spends what little money he has on a pair of second lieutenant's bars that he finds in a Denver pawnshop. These bars, just like those worn by the American pilots he idolized during the Berlin Airlift, remind him of the airmen and the planes that instilled in him a dream to fly.That aspiration, however, faces long odds. Struggling to learn the English language and American customs, Samuel begins to lose faith in his abilities, suffers depression, and is haunted by both recurring nightmares of his violent past and survivor's guilt. Coming to Colorado charts the path of Samuel's eventual triumph. In 1960, his proud mother saw pinned on his shoulders the gold bars of a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. It was the end of a struggle for the German boy, who had become, as he wished, the ultimate American.
At the close of World War II, Allied forces faced frightening new German secret weapons--buzz bombs, V-2's, and the first jet fighters. When Hitler's war machine began to collapse, the race was on to snatch these secrets before the Soviet Red Army found them.The last battle of World War II, then, was not for military victory but for the technology of the Third Reich. In American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets, Wolfgang W. E. Samuel assembles from official Air Force records and survivors' interviews the largely untold stories of the disarmament of the once mighty Luftwaffe and of Operation Lusty--the hunt for Nazi technologies.In April 1945 American armies were on the brink of winning their greatest military victory, yet America's technological backwardness was shocking when measured against that of the retreating enemy. Senior officers, including the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Henry Harley Hap Arnold, knew all too well the seemingly overwhelming victory was less than it appeared. There was just too much luck involved in its outcome.Two intrepid American Army Air Forces colonels set out to regain America's technological edge. One, Harold E. Watson, went after the German jets; the other, Donald L. Putt, went after the Nazis' intellectual capital--their world-class scientists.With the help of German and American pilots, Watson brought the jets to America; Putt persevered as well and succeeded in bringing the German scientists to the Army Air Forces' aircraft test and evaluation center at Wright Field. A young P-38 fighter pilot, Lloyd Wenzel, a Texan of German descent, then turned these enemy aliens into productive American citizens--men who built the rockets that took America to the moon, conquered the sound barrier, and laid the foundation for America's civil and military aviation of the future.American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets details the contest won, a triumph that shaped America's victories in the Cold War.
One survivor tells of the fire-bombing of Dresden. Another recounts the pervasive fear of marauding Russian and Czech bandits raping and killing. Children recall fathers who were only photographs and mothers who were saviors and heroes.These are typical in the stories collected in The War of Our Childhood: Memories of World War II. For this book Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, a childhood refugee himself after the fall of Nazi Germany, interviewed twenty-seven men and women who as children--by chance and sheer resilience--survived Allied bombs, invading armies, hunger, and chaos. Our eyes carried no hate, only recognition of what was, Samuel writes of his childhood. Peace was an abstraction. The world we Kinder knew nearly always had the word 'war' appended to it. Samuel's heartfelt narratives from these innocent survivors are invariably riveting and often terrifying. Each engrossing story has perilous and tragic moments--school children in Leuna who are sent home during an air raid but are strafed as moving targets; fathers who exist only as distant figures, returning to their families long after the war--or not at all; mothers who are raped and tortured; families who are forced into a seemingly endless relocation that replicates the terrors of war itself. In capturing such experiences from nearly every region of Germany and involving people of every socio-economic class, this is a collection of unique memories, but each account contributes to a cumulative understanding of the war that is more personal than strategic surveys and histories.For Samuel and the survivors he interviewed, agony and fright were part of everyday life, just as were play, wondrous experience, and above all perseverance. My focus, Samuel writes, is on the astounding ability of a generation of German children to emerge from debilitating circumstances as sane and productive human beings.
What was the experience of war for a child in bombed and ravaged Germany? In this memoir, the voice of innocence is heard. This is great stuff, exclaims Stephen E. Ambrose. I love this book. In this gripping account, a boy and his mother are wrenched from their tranquil lives to forge a path through the storm of war and the rubble of its aftermath. In the past there has been a spectrum of books and films that share other German World War II experiences. However, told from the perspective of a ten-year-old, this book is rare. The boy and his mother must prevail over hunger and despair, or die.In the Third Reich, young Wolfgang Samuel and his family are content but alone. The father, a Luftwaffe officer, is away fighting the Allies in the West. In 1945 as Berlin and nearby communities crumble, young Wolfgang, his mother Hedy, and little sister Ingrid flee the advancing Russian army. They have no inkling of the chaos ahead. In Strasburg, a small town north of Berlin where they find refuge, Wolfgang begins to comprehend the evils the Nazi regime brought to Germany. As the Reich collapses, mother, son, and daughter flee again just ahead of the Russian charge.In the chaos of defeat they struggle to find food and shelter. Death stalks the primitive camps that are their temporary havens, and the child becomes the family provider. Under the crushing responsibility, Wolfgang becomes his mother's and sister's mainstay. When they return to Strasburg, the Communists in control are as brutal as the Nazis. In the violent atmosphere of arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and fear, the boy and his mother persist. Pursued by Communist police through a fierce blizzard, they escape to the West, but even in the English zone, the constant search for food, warmth, and shelter dominates their lives, and the mother's sacrifices become the boy's nightmares.Although this is a time of deepest despair, Wolfgang hangs on to the thinnest thread of hope. In June 1948 with the arrival of the Americans flying the Berlin Airlift, Wolfgang begins a new journey.