I found this story posted over on www.classicarms.us Good story. Good website to buy from too. Can't go wrong with Classic Arms. _____________ Chivalry In The Air As told by Jim Brodie For Military Appreciation Day Florida House of Representatives April 19,2007 I would like to tell you a story. A true story of Chivalry, Gallantry, Courage and Compassion. I hope you will enjoy it and share it with the special people in your life. At Dawn on the morning of December 20, 1943, American Army Lieutenant Charlie Brown piloted his B-17 bomber into formation and joined nearly 400 others from the 8th Air Force in England to bomb a German fighter factory in Bremen. It was his first mission as pilot in command of this 30 ton 4 engine heavy. Charlie was 21 years old. His crew of ten were all in their late teens and early twenties. They had worked together and they had trained togetherâ€¦they were more than a crewâ€¦ they were a team. The bomber stream crossed the North Sea with American P-47 fighters as escorts. The fighters would stay with them for as long as they had range. But when the fighters turned back to refuel the bombers were on their own. As they crossed the German coast they were attacked by defending ME 109 fighters. The Messerschmitt ME 109 fighter was a world class, single engine aircraft, â€¦fast, maneuverable and deadly â€¦ armed with machine guns and cannon. The two forces clashed and fought all the way to the outskirts of Bremen. During the action Charlieâ€™s bomber sustained numerous hits wounding several of the crew and knocking out one engine. They were able to stay with the formation but as they approached the target, German anti-aircraft guns opened up. Charlieâ€™s plane was hit again, destroying the Plexiglas nose and wounding the bombardier. They could have turned back, they should have turned back but thatâ€™s not what THIS crew was all about. They stayed with the mission and dropped their bombs directly on the target. They were unable to keep up with the formation as it turned back toward England. Alone as a straggler they were an easy target. Once again the German fighters attacked. Machine gun and cannon fire tore through the airplane. The American gunners fought back bravely â€¦all 10 machine guns blazing. Charlie flying his bomber directly into the oncoming Germans as if it were a fighter, employing tactics no bomber was built for. The one sided battle lasted far longer than anyone could have expected, one German fighter destroyed, another probableâ€¦but the flying fortress and the crew were being shreddedâ€¦Charlie was hit in the right arm. At 25 thousand feet the controls of a second engine were shot away and the bomberâ€™s oxygen supply was destroyed. Without oxygen the crew and pilot lost consciousness and the bomber spiraled toward earth 5 miles below. The Germans scored it as another kill and raced off after the main bomber formation. Charlieâ€™s B-17 continued its lumbering death spiral. Miraculously the out of control bomber was spiraling slowly enough that the pilot regained consciousness in time to get control of the airplane and leveled off at 150 feet. Charlie ordered his co-pilot to prepare the crew to bail out if he could get enough altitude for the parachutes to open. The co-pilot came back and told him of the dead and wounded crew and the horribly damaged airplane. They were in no condition to bail out. Charlie replied, â€œthatâ€™s okay, I canâ€™t get any altitude anywayâ€,â€¦throw everything overboard to lighten the loadâ€â€¦parachutes, life rafts, machine guns. A third engine was now acting up. As they flew, their course took them, unknowingly, over a Luftwaffe fighter base. On the ground German fighter Ace, Lt. Franz Stigler was having his Messerschmitt fighter re-armed and re-fueled. He had already shot down two of the American bombers that morning adding to his long list of what would be 28 aerial victories. He could not believe his luck, here was another target and he went off to bag number three for the day which would surely earn him the Knightâ€™s Cross presented by the Furher himself! As Franz sped toward his target his experience told him to do it just right, even though this American was alone and a straggler, he had been shot down by B17â€™s before and he had the wounds to show for it. As he approached from the rear Franz noticed how low and how strangely the bomber was flying. The closer he got the more amazed he was that it was flying at all. It was terribly shot up. He determined he would get as close as possibleâ€¦..his 30 mm cannon and machine guns readyâ€¦..his finger on the trigger. As soon as the tail gunner would raise his guns Franz would blow them out of the sky and go home a heroâ€¦.once again. Closerâ€¦.still closerâ€¦.yet, no reaction from the crippled bomber. The much faster fighter flew by in a wide arc without firing. Franz noticed the tail gunner was deadâ€¦ blood was everywhere. He saw the courageous American crew struggling to save their comrades and a valiant young pilot trying to keep his airplane flying. As the German fighter passed, them the entire crew was horrified. They were helpless; they were doomedâ€¦and they knew itâ€¦they were all about to die. The defender of the Reich circled back, still in amazement that this bomber could remain airborne. He approached again and did not fire. This time slowing down enough to fly in formation on Charlieâ€™s right wing. Charlie, bleeding from his wound looked in horror, could not believe what he was seeing. The two 20 something warriors stared at each other, each other, each taking the measure of the other airmanâ€¦the planes just a few feet apart. He signaled Charlie to drop his landing gear, land in Germany and surrender. Charlie, either not understanding, or still groggy, just glared back. He refused to give up his ship on his first mission as pilot in command. Again, Franz, using hand signals, ordered the American pilot to land and be taken prisoner. Charlie refused. Franz thought to himself, â€œI canâ€™t murder this brave but helpless crew and their â€œcowboy â€ pilot, but we are still way inside Germany and if I leave them alone they will be dropped by the next fighter or flak gunâ€. So, in an act of great compassion and chivalry and risking facing a firing squad, German Lt. Franz Stigler escorted American Lt. Charlie Brownâ€™s bomber to the North Sea coast. He pointed toward Englandâ€¦then he saluted, said â€œhappy birthday cowboyâ€ rolled his fighter into a hard right turn and headed back to base never to breathe a word of what had happened. He flew an incredible 480 combat missionsâ€¦ was credited with 28 victories and 40 more probables. He survived bring shot down 17 times. Charlie and the crew were in total disbelief. This gallant German knight had given them life. They continued across the North Sea, crash landing on the coast of England. Charlie continued to serve his country throughout the war flying 30 more combat missions over Germany and retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He and his crew related their story to the Army brass and were told, â€œBury itâ€, your mission is classified Secret â€œwe are at war, sonâ€¦ there are no gallant Germansâ€. But Charlie and the crew never forgot the chivalrous airman who gave them back their lives. That should be the end of the storyâ€¦but itâ€™s not. Forty five years later in 1988, Charlie attended a reunion of his WWII bomber squadron and told his story. Fifty seven children and grandchildren had been born to the surviving crew of Charlieâ€™s bomber. The press was there and a reprint of the story was eventually published in a German fighter pilotâ€™s magazine. A year later, in December of 1989, Charlie received a five page type written letter postmarked Surrey, British Columbia. In the letter was a precise description of the air action over Bremen Germany on December, 20 1943â€¦details that only Charlie knew, such as aircraft markings, time of day, precise battle damage and even the wave salute. Charlie couldnâ€™t believe it; how could this be possible? He was suspicious, but the details were accurate, the same story told from a totally different perspective. He telephoned Canada; for an hour the two spoke; every detailed was described. Charlie and his wife Jackie flew to British Columbia and met Franz and his wife Helga. In the airport in Canada the two old warriors, now in their 70â€™s, once again came face to face. They stared at each other; fears and memories that had been locked away came rushing back. With tears in their eyes hey embraced. Franz said, â€œHappy Birthday Cowboyâ€, for it was December 20th, 1989. Franz and Charlie have remained friends ever since and have become as close as brothers.