In the Presence of My Enemy by John D. Shaw
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December 20, 1943, near the coast of Germany: Luftwaffe ace Franz Stigler had never seen a B-17 this damaged. My God, how are you still flying? he thought. Inside the bomber’s cockpit, the rookie American pilot, Charlie Brown, was thinking the same thing. An air battle had shredded his bomber. Leaning forward to check an engine, a sight made Charlie’s heart skip. There, three feet from his wingtip flew a gray Bf-109. Charlie closed his eyes and opened them but the German was still there. He’s going to destroy us, Charlie concluded.
Instead, Franz did something incredible—he nodded to Charlie. In the presence of his enemy, Franz had changed. He had only become a fighter pilot to avenge his brother, a pilot killed early in the war. But there, alongside the defenseless B-17, Franz decided to break the cycle of violence, to spare the bomber and escort it out of Germany. It was a gesture Charlie would never forget. In his old age, he would search the world for Franz and in 1990 they would reunite, not as former enemies but as brothers separated for 46 years.
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"In the Presence of My Enemy" is hand-signed by a collection of WWII heroes! Signers vary print by print. Please click "editions" to see which veterans signed which prints.
CHARLES BROWN (extracted signature) - 379th BG, 527th Sq., 21-year-old B-17 pilot "Ye Olde Pub" & "Carol Dawn," 32 combat missions.
DON CARLSON - 466th BG, 786th Sqn, 20-year-old B-24 Pilot
JOE CLARKE - 34th BG, 18th Sqn., 20-year-old B-17 pilot "Ramblin Rebel." Ditched in Channel. Bailed out over UK. 31 Combat Missions.
JORG CZYPIONKA - JG-300/NJG-11, Bf 109 & Me 262 pilot with 2 victories
ROBERT EGNEW - 379th BG, 527th Sqn., B-17 Ball Turret Gunner
EARWIN "WIN" EKELAND - 8th AF Training Command, B-24 pilot
DON GROOMER - 4th Fighter Group Crew Chief
HENRY HEINTZ - 388th BG, 563rd Sqn., B-17 pilot
HUGH MCGINTY - 379th BG, 524th Sqn., B-17 Tail Gunner on "The Blue Blazing Blizzard." Flew in the same formation as Lt. Charlie Brown!
ELMER "LUCKY" MCGINTY - 95th BG, 339th Sqn., B-17 Gunner on "I Dood It." 29 combat missions. Brother of Hugh McGinty.
GEORGE MESHKO - 96th BG, 339th Sqn., B-17 Waist Gunner/Engineer
E. E. MISCHLER - 94th BG, 333rd Sqn., 19-year-old B-17 gunner on "Pride of the Yanks." Appears in the famous war-time film, "Target for Today."
NEWT MOY - 398th BG, 603rd Sqn., 23-year-old B-17 pilot who flew 26 combat missions.
CLAYTON NATTIER - 306th BG, 369th Sqn., 21-year-old B-17 pilot of "Heavenly Body." Shot down over Merseburg, Germany.
KURT SCHULZE - JG 5 & JG 51 Bf 109 pilot with 103 combat missions and 3 victories.
THEODORE STELL - 385th BG B-17 Pilot
FRANZ STIGLER (extracted signature) - JG 27 & JV 44 Bf 109 & Me 262 pilot with 487 combat missions and 28 victories.