Library of Congress
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Branch: Air Force
Unit: 413 Squadron - 96 Bomber Group
Highest Rank: SGT
Birth Year: November 18, 1923
Place of Birth: Waterville, Michigan
SEE VIDEO BELOW
|Charles Krieger, a native of Berrien County, Michigan, was a tail gunner in a B17 bomber. Charles enlisted in the Air Force in 1942, immediately after high school. He received training in Miami Beach, and Arkansas. He was eventually assigned as a tail gunner after receiving further training in Biloxi. In the summer of 1944, he was shipped to Europe with the 413th Squadron, 96th Bomber Group. The Group began bombing runs in January of 1945. By that time the Allies had control of the skies, but there was always plenty of anti-aircraft fire.|
In one raid, the B17 was so severely damaged that the pilot told everyone to bale out. This was Charles first jump. He was careful to not open his chute too early because the lack of oxygen at that altitude would surely be fatal. When he did pull the ring, nothing happened. At 125 mph he had to act quickly so he tried several things and the chute finally opened.
Charles ended up in a tree, about 15 feet from the ground. A group of German farmers with pitch-forks waited for him to get down and captured him. He was put in a small shed until they were able to turn him over to the Luftwaffe guards, who then put him in with a group of American prisoners.
They were marched to Munich from Nuremberg. In route, Allied planes shot and killed six POW's because they thought they were Germans. Conditions in the camp were deplorable. The camp was finally liberated in late April of 1945.