The generally accepted research shows that 22 year old Unteroffizier Irmfred Klotz flying a Focke Wulf 190 shot my airplane down on March 5, 1944. I was 21, thinking I was Sierra Hotel just the day before, now this guy is thinking he’s Sierra Hotel. The day after I shot down his first two enemy aircraft, although I only got credit for one even though I had wingman confirmation for both.
We were flying to Bordeaux to bomb the port there. The weather was stinkin’ so we turned inland for targets of opportunity. We had just turned. I was tail end Charlie. Obie O’Brien was flight leader. We used to tease him that he couldn’t see two feet in front of his plane.
And true to form, I checked six (often) and saw the Focke Wulfs first. I called a break and now I was the lead. I did a head on pass with three of them but Klotz got the credit.
Me and my airplane parted company. Victoria, after her first time sitting in the P-51 cockpit and having a heck of a time getting out, asked me how I was able to get out of that cockpit to escape. I told her I didn’t have to, it was falling apart in pieces around me.
At the US National Archives I saw William “Obee” O’Brien’s encounter report taking credit for shooting down Klotz’s Focke Wulf 190. According to the 357th historian, Merle Ohmsted, this was confirmed in a letter to Obie O’Brien in 1996 by a gentleman from Europe. Unfortunately, research has not yet produced confirmation of this in a German-language document.
Obie said it looked like Klotz was making a second pass to kill me in my parachute, so Obie shot him down. His parachute failed to open. And I got to float down to the French woods.
Ain’t a German in the world can catch a West Virginian in the woods.
After being shot down by Obie, Klotz bailed out but was killed when his parachute failed to open. His Focke Wulf crashed near the site where I landed in France.
Victoria and I visited the site in 2012; a beautiful field on a beautiful sunny day. All traces of the war: the pieces of the plane, have since disappeared.
Nearby, is the home of a man, who as a young man, played soccer and fished with me to while away the hours till I could be moved. His parents risked their necks to help many young men and women especially after their older son, in the French Underground, never returned.
A very brave lot, the French Underground and the Maquis.