As a young band of brothers flies over German-occupied France, they come under heavy fire. Their B-17 is shot down and the airmen—stumbling through fields and villages—scatter across Europe. Some struggled to flee for safety. Others were captured immediately and imprisoned. Now, for the first time, their incredible story of grit, survival, and reunion is told.
In 1944, George Starks was just a nineteen-year-old kid from Florida when he and his high school buddies enlisted in the US military. They wanted to join the action of WWII. George was assigned to the 92nd Bomb Group—in which the median age was 22—and on his crew’s first bombing mission together received the most vulnerable spot of a B-17 mission configuration: low squadron, low group, flying #6 in the bomber box formation.
Airmen called George’s position the “Coffin Corner” because here exposure was most likely to draw hostile fire. Sure enough, George’s plane was shot down by a German Fw190, and he jumped at 25,000 feet for the “first and only time,” as he tells the story. He landed near Vitry-le-Perthois to begin a 300-mile trek through the dangers of war-torn France towards the freedom of neutral Switzerland.
Through waist-deep snow, seering exhaustion, and close encounters with Nazis, George repeated to himself the mantra “just one more day.” He battled to keep walking. His comrades were scattered all across Europe and experienced places as formidable as German POW camps and as hospitable as Spain, each crew member always wondering about the fate of the others.
After the war, George made two vows: he would never lose touch with his men again and one day would attempt to thank those who had risked their lives to save his. Despite passage of time and demands of career and family, he accomplished both. He reunited with his crew then twenty-five years later returned to France to locate as many of the brave souls who had helped him evade the enemy as he could.
Join George as he retraces his steps to freedom and discover the amazing stories of sacrifice and survival and how ten young American boys plus their French Helpers became heroes.
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Growing up in a family steeped in military history, Carole Engle Avriett often heard her uncle—chief mechanic for Gen. Claire Lee Chenault’s Flying Tigers—insist, “Ain’t no fake stories ever gonna outdo the real ones.” Convinced that he was right, Avriett pursued a career as an editor with Southern Living Magazine for nearly fifteen years recording real-life stories, then as an author at the intersection of true-life narratives and military history. Coffin Corner Boys is her sixth book.
Avriett graduated from the Uni. of California, Davis, with a BA of double majors in English and History, specializing in Military History. She received a Masters of Education with a concentration in English Composition from the Auburn Uni. where she taught Advanced Composition while working on doctoral level course-work in Literature.
Table of Contents
Foreword, Lieutenant General E. G. "Buck" Shuler, Jr. xi
Remembrances Paul Mike Starks xv
Part I Beginnings
1 Reconnecting: The "Search" Trip 3
2 Beginning at Sixteen 11
3 Only One Jump…Ever 17
Part II The Crew and First Days Down
4 A Whistle Signal 27
5 Betrayed by the Gendarmes 33
6 "Are You Hebrew?" 39
7 Cognac and Eggs 45
8 Meeting Up with Buddies 53
9 Meeting in a Shack 57
10 A Casket and a Bicycle 61
Part III The Helpers and the Enemy
11 Processing in Frankfurt am Main 69
12 Living with the Videls 75
13 "Get the Hell Out of Here" 81
14 Sitting Around a French Fireplace 87
15 An Engineer's Home, a Dress Shop, and a Root Cellar 91
16 A Squeaky Wheel 97
17 Life in Stalag Luft III 103
18 11, Rue de Saussaies, Gestapo Headquarters, Paris 109
19 Fresnes Prison, Paris 113
20 Dulag Luft and the Forty-and-Eights 117
21 Stalag Luft IV, Deeper into Germany 121
22 Angels Watching Over 125
23 Troop Train and a Brave Man 127
24 The Captain 133
25 "Frisco" 137
26 The Theater and the Stress of POW Camp 141
27 One More Day 145
28 Steaming Clothes on a Stove 149
29 The Chief of Police and Giselle 153
30 A Train Full of Germans 159
31 Maurice Baverel, a Spy for All Seasons 163
32 Dr. Charlin and the Five-Horsepower Peugeot 167
Part IV The Final Push Out
33 Worsening Conditions 173
34 The Black Death March 179
35 A Small Miracle 185
36 Swiss Surprise 189
37 Enough of Switzerland 195
38 Rowboat Ride at Midnight 199
Part V Going Home
39 George Starks and the Green Hornet 207
40 Irv Baum and Ted Badder 209
41 Dick Morse 211
42 Bill Wyatt with Don Edgerly and Bob Williams 215
43 Andy Brenden with Wally Trinder 217
44 Dale Beery and William Wallace 219
Part VI Finding Old Friends
45 Reconnecting, 1969 223
46 On to Pontarller 227
47 The Boillots and Dr. Charlin 231
48 Back with Mike, 1970 237
49 More Visits with Friends 241
50 Reunion with the Crew 243
Epilogue: One More Time to France 245
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fitting that I finished reading this book on Independence Day. This is the true story of 10 men who flew a B-17 during WW II. They were shot down on March 16, 1944. This book is the story of their harrowing experiences and of those who were able to make it back to the United Sates. The pilot of the B-17 made life long friends with the French men and women who aided his escape. Each survivor of the crash tells how he was able to survive and return to the United States.