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Walter Falck

Walter F. Falck Jr., born 01/16/1925, died 05/07/2009. Entered into active service: 04/10/1943 at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Military Occupational Specialty: Flight Maintenance Gunner 748; Battles and Campaigns: Rome-Amo: No Appenines; Rhineland: Air Combat Balkans. Decorations & Citations: European African Middle Eastern Ribbon w/4 Bronze Stars: Purple Heart; Air Medal w/1 oak leaf cluster. Wound received in Ozd, Hungary on December 18, 1944


Memories...

When my dad was shot down, the Germans were shooting up at them and while he was in his parachute, he was shot through the meat of his leg. He said that he believed at least one person in the crew was killed by being shot while still in his chute, but he never told me the name of the man. Some of the guys I believe were lucky enough to land in Russia. My dad landed behind enemy lines and was a prisoner for almost 6 months.

When he landed a couple of German soldiers cornered him and took him prisoner. My dad's hands were tied and he was placed in a jeep with an older guard who then rushed him down the snowy mountainside, his leg bleeding all the way. Apparently this guy was driving too fast for the snowy conditions and my dad being from North Jersey knew that he was out of control on the icy roads. My dad spoke pretty good Swedish and was yelling up to the driver to slow down in English and Swedish, but the guard was really hyper/nervous with the prisoner in the back and didn't heed the warning. They slid off the road and he flipped the jeep, throwing my dad out into a snow bank. The guard came over and picked him up and was apologizing in German to him.



Sgt. Walter Falck was attached to the 459th Bomb Group in the 15th Air Force. He was forced to bail out of the B-24 bomber 42-78160 known as "Cherry" and was captured by the Germans. For five and one-half months he knew the life of a POW and had personal contact with the German mind. He left the service with the European African Middle Eastern Ribbon w/4 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, and Air Medal w/ one Oak Leaf Cluster. This is his story.

The Air Corps did get a lot of glory, but those missions over Europe were no Sunday joyrides. Often, while pushing our way through the splintering black puffs of flak, it seemed as though we could look through the thin-sheeted fuselage as though it were made of Lucite. We knew it would withstand pebbles, but we also knew it could not stop a bee-bee shot.

Our missions seemed sainted - until the twenty-eighth. . . .

We had just dropped our load of five hundred pounder's over Osweigan, Poland. The flak was not too bad and the target was well covered with overcast. Suddenly, a terrific barrage of flak came up, first at nine o'clock and then at three o'clock.

Number three conked out. A direct hit!! Fortunately, it was a dud and did not explode. However, it severed the prop, making the engine useless. We began to lose altitude. We jettisoned our excess weight; fifty caliber guns were dismounted and dropped through the open bomb bay. We realized the plane would last only an hour, so we decided to head for Russian-held territory. When our gasoline finally ran out, we were unable to find a landing strip of any kind. So, We Bailed Out!!!

One by one the crew dropped out of the doomed B-24. My pilot, Robert DeGroat, and I bailed out last. Jumping into the cold air was exhilarating and after counting to 10, my parachute snapped open. As it did, my aviator hat, with earphones intact, was ripped from my head. The chute blossomed out and glided gracefully along on the air cur- rents. Everything was quiet and peaceful - until - a shot rang out! I thought I was over a combat area. But no, the shots were aimed at me! Bullets flew by me and into the chute above and then one hit me with a paddle-like smack. It pierced my left leg up high in the thigh and came out without hitting the bone. I thought it was over for me! As I neared the tree-tops, I prayed I could make a safe landing.

Still clutching my B-4 bag, I smashed against the towering pines that extended over the entire snow-covered mountainside. I fumbled through my escape kit, and yanked out my knife. I started cutting my way through the tangled underbrush. Upon reaching a clearing I started crawling up the 200 feet towards the top where I could get my bearings. Two soldiers came running at me from below. They were armed with burp guns. At first I had hopes that they might be Russians. But as they drew nearer I could see the swastikas on their caps. Jamming their guns into my back they forced me down the mountainside to their outpost. After sprinkling sulfanilamide powder (from my escape kit) on my leg wound, the Germans put me in a jeep-like open vehicle and were going to drive me some other place - but - as we turned on to the road, the vehicle flipped and threw me into a ditch! What else could happen to me today?

Later on that evening, the pilot, radio operator, navigator, and tail-gunner were brought in. They were captured in the same manner as I was. We all stayed here at divisional headquarters overnight. The next morning our co-pilot was brought in.

Late in the afternoon, after having a little cabbage soup, we were put on a truck along with some Russian and Ukrainian prisoners. This was only the beginning of a 30 day hike across Germany to Frankfort, the interrogation center for captured Allied airmen.

Our next stop was a Gestapo controlled jail in Zevolan, Slovakia. Here is where we spent Christmas. We were split into two groups, three in each, and put into thick, stone-walled and ironclad dungeons.

For five uncertain days we stayed within the confines of our dungeon walls, awaiting the next move of the Gestapo. We slept on filthy burlap sacks on a damp floor; the walls trickled with water that had permeated through the ground above, resulting in a dampness which we could feel to the marrow of our bones. The only source of heat that we had was from a fire which was lit at ten o'clock and lasted until about two p.m. when the tinder burned out. We were never really warm; even with all our clothes on , we still shivered.

Finally, on our fifth day we were brought before the Gestapo's interrogation head, who at one time had been a sparring partner with Max Schmeling. Instead of a rigid interrogation period, which we had expected, it turned out to be a casual conversation about our favorite sports.

Many times we had to huddle together and sleep out of doors. Sleeping out in the below freezing weather was no fun, especially when we had no way of getting warm. In addition, we did not have enough food to maintain a normal body resistance against the cold. One night we managed to find shelter in an old potato cellar. It was very damp but served our needs as an air raid shelter. There were many alerts through the night by our heavies. When morning came we started to leave this building. But upon exiting we noticed with great despair a Russian airman hanging by a noose from a tree; he had been shot down during the night. The Germans seemingly had no mercy for the Russians.

Riding in the trains through Germany we unavoidably faced the civilians who had been bombed out of their homes, victims of horrible disasters that struck town after town as we ruthlessly raided their homes through air battle. We could feel the bitter hate that bore heavily in old as well as young people. They stared and frowned at us untiringly during the train rides. Now that we were in the midst of the German nation, trouble came to us even while we marched through small towns to meet our train connections.. Little boys and girls, aged 4 through14 cluttered the streets as we passed, throwing stones and sticks at us. They swore at us, spit at us and called us Chicago Gangsters. Many times, if it hadn't been for our guards, we surely would have been mobbed and put to death by the enraged populace.

After five and a half months as a captive, I was joyously liberated by the Seventh Army down in the southern part of Germany near the town of Mooseberg.


Standing Left To Right:

Sgt. John C. Mann Jr. (tail turret)

Sgt Walter F. Falck Jr. (engineer/top turret)

S/Sgt Alexander S. Drogy (radio operator/waist gunner)

Sgt. Lester Joseph Jr. (nose turret)

Sgt Joseph G. Hallett Jr. (ball turret)

S/Sgt William Sowders (armorer/waist gunner)

Kneeling Left To Right:

2nd Lt. Robert G. Degroat (pilot)

2nd Lt. Henry M. Sandifer Jr. (co-pilot)

2nd Lt. Huber V. Schierling (navigator)

2nd Lt. Dan Rose (bombardier)


MACR: 10699

Walter Falck

Sgt. Walter F Falck Jr was assigned to the 459th BG 758th Squadron.
Military Occupational Specialty (MOS): Engineer/Gunner.


Standing Left To Right:

The following information on Walter Falck is gathered and extracted from military records. We have many documents and copies of documents, including military award documents. It is from these documents that we have found this information on Sgt. Falck. These serviceman's records are nowhere near complete and we are always looking for more material. If you can help add to Walter Falck's military record please contact us.

  Rank General Order Date Notes Award Ribbon & Device

Walter Falck

Cpl

4735

11/27/1944

 

AM

Air Medal (AM)

Walter Falck

Sgt

5247

12/30/1944

MIA

AM/1OLC

Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

Please contact us with any biographical data, pictures or other information regarding the service and life of Walter Falck.

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