Diary of an Airman

1st Lieutenant Edward "Eddie" J. Flak
7 December 1919 - 11 April 1998

 

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The B-17 Flying Fortress

Dairy of an Airman

 

The following 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.

Upon debriefing 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.

Lt. Housenecht, 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 aircraft!'"

Additions to this history will be added as records are recovered from the various family archives.