is a history of an airman. Eddie Flak was born in Pottstown
PA on December 7th, 1919. Twenty two years later on his
birthday, events happened that changed the course of history.
This is his story in that history.
Eddie Flak enlisted
in the US Army in 1942 and joined up with an elite Texas
Unit (Company I, 142 Infantry) as a Ranger. Being a "ground
grunt" was not in his constitution and he decided that
he was not going to walk all the way to Berlin, so he applied
to the Army Air Corps for pilot training.
Although he passed
basic flight training, he never earned his pilot's wings
and was rerouted into the bombardier program where he held
ratings as both a bombardier and navigator.
On his 4th
combat mission, a raid on the synthetic oil facilities
at Bremen, his aircraft took a direct hit with flak to the
cockpit. Lt. Flak climbed upstairs and took control of the
aircraft. He presumed the pilot, Lt. Bill Housenecht, was
dead, and had him removed from the seat. The copilot was
too injured to be much assistance. He brought the aircraft
around, navigated it back to England and landed safely.
The story might
have grown in the telling, but being the bombardier, he
didn't pay attention to parts of the mission briefings that
did not apply to his crew position. This included the challenge
and response code words to be used to get clearance to land.
When challenged and failing to come up with the correct
response, air traffic control advised him that he would
be shot down. Eddie cussed them out as only a New Yorker
who went through hell in Texas could. They let him land.
they said that their decision to let him land was based
on their belief that no German could know that much obscenity
and use it so creatively.
although seriously injured, was nursed back to health and
resumed flying status in June of 1945. He died in 1999.
Lt. Flak won
the third oak leaf cluster to his Air Medal for his actions
on this mission.
Lt. Flak was
also lead bombardier for one of those infamous 1,000 plane
raids. In his words, "I had a two star upstairs in
the left seat, a full colonel in the right seat, and 500
B-17's off each wing. So at the most critical time of the
mission, here's the first lieutenant saying, 'I have the
this history will be added as records are recovered from
the various family archives.