SIXTEEN MISSIONS OVER SIXTEEN MISSIONS OVER GERMANY
This is the true story of a brave, young Ritzville man, Ralph Danekas, who enlisted in the army air corps shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Ralph wanted to be a pilot and patriotism ran high in his family, so he applied for flight school for one of the big bombers he often saw flying over Ritzville as a kid in high school. He was told that flying a four-engine bomber was a tough job, but there was a war on the army needed pilots. Ralph was also told that many enlistees washed out during the rigorous training, but Ralph was determined to see it through to the end. Ralph chose the almost indestructible B-17 or “Flying Fortress” as it was affectionately known. and quickly advanced through the program. After graduation from the training schools, Ralph was sent to the European Theater of Operations and assigned to the 401st Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourne, England.
Ralph flew a B-17G named “The Peacemaker” on fifteen missions through flak-filled skies and against some of the best fighter pilots that Germany had to offer. (The Peacemaker was the name painted the nose of his Flying Fortress and was known as “Nose- art”.) Each time the famous “Flying Fortress” returned to Bassingbourne without serious damage, however, the sixteenth mission was different. The events of Lt. Ralph’s final mission earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart. A fascinating read for students of:
- World War II history
- History of Ritzville, Washington
- Flying Fortress
The book includes numerous photos, an index, and bibliography.