On December 31, 1944 Lieutenants Glenn H Rojohn and William G Leek flew B17 Little Skipper as part of the Battle of The Bulge. Their amazing 22nd mission would make history that day known as Piggy Back Flight.
No one knows for sure if B17 Nine Lives piloted by Lieutenants William MacNab and Nelson Vaughn rose upwards or if Little Skipper dropped downwards to fill a formation void created by another plane that was shot down. Or if either of plane’s movement was caused by enemy fire or weather.
The end result was two B17s hooked together as Leek described like “breeding dragonflies”. MacNab’s plane’s top turret guns pierced through the aluminum skin of the bottom of Rojohn’s plane. Rojohn’s prop into Mac Nabs engine. All the engines but one were still working.
After Rojohn’s attempts to detach the planes, he feathered his engines and ordered the crews to bail out. Orville Eikin, Edward Neuhaus, James Shirley, Robert Washington, Roy Little, Joseph Russo and Francis Chase were in his plane. Henry Ethridge, Duane Rench, Francis Seyfried,Edward Woodall, Jack Berkowitz, Raymond Comer Jr and Joseph Chadwick were in MacNab’s plane. Unfortunately, Russo was trapped.
He ordered Leek to bail but he refused so he could stay with his pilot and friend.
Rojohn and Leek landed the pick-a-back B17s near Wilhelmshaven Germany. MacNab’s plane exploded on impact. Rojohn’s skidded on the ground. Miraculously Rojohn and Leek crawled out the plane onto the wing only slightly injured. All that was left of the Little Skipper was the nose, cockpit and their seats.
Sadly Mac Nab and Vaugh were killed in the collision, Russo was killed when the planes landed, Little and Chase did not survive their jumps. Henry Ethridge, Duane Rench and Francis Seyfried were also killed.
A historic moment for The Greatest Generation.
Thank you Terry Flatley for creating a wonderful description of this historic event.
Thank you Gregg Thompson for the amazing painting of this flight.
For more information please visit www.breedingdragonflies.com
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