Maj. James O. Umphries, Ret
by Thomas Umphries
My father was a B24 pilot a 2nd Lt. He used to like to say he completed 12 1/2 missions. He was reluctant to speak of his war experiences until much later in his life. He has since passed.
I don't have a lot of particulars, but know he was returning from Polesti, when they were strafed by German fighters. The fuel tanks were perforated and it was decided to go as far as they could before bailout. The whole crew bailed safely, they watched as the plane rolled over to starboard and went straight down. My father and his co-pilot came down over a little hill, upon landing he circled the hill and was captured by German patrol. The co-pilot had gone the opposite direction and was never captured.
My father was taken to Stalag Luft lll 7-15-44, just after the "Great Escape" took place from South Compound. He survived the Death March when the camp was evacuated ahead of Patton. The march itself was a harrowing experience, too long to tell here. If you can find a copy of Clipped Wings it contains a lot of photos and story of the march. My father stayed in the Air Force for 23 yrs. My mother even got him to attend a couple reunions of the POW camp. He even met a couple of former guards.
His co-pilot was Thomas Dwyer. I have the other crew members, but can't find it right now.
Luck is on my side, found the list: Robert McAuliff 2 LT
William Perry 2 LT
William Sammon S Sgt
Armond Sachetti S Sgt
Dean Button S Sgt
Ben Ferguson S Sgt
Leonard Audette S Sgt
Gilbert Schlehuber T Sgt
Chuck Hangen T Sgt
Sorry I don't know their positions in the aircraft. All the enlisted were sent to Stalag Luft IV.
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