In honor of Veteran's Day, we're broadcasting this interview with Adam Makos. The program was originally broadcast in March, 2014.
On December 20th, 1943, a crippled B-17 bomber desperately headed for the safety of the German coast and the North Sea. Piloted by a 21-year-old American airman on his first combat mission, it had been strafed by enemy fire after dropping a bomb load on the German town of Bremen. With half its crew dead or injured, its tail nearly blown away and gaping holes in its fuselage, the besieged bomber struggled to stay aloft.
Suddenly, a German Messerschmitt jet piloted by an ace fighter appeared off the American plane’s wing. The defenseless rookies on that plane could only stare in horror, certain they were just moments from death. But instead of delivering a fatal blow, the German pilot risked court martial and a firing squad by providing the enemy a safe escort over the German flak line and out to sea That single act of valor would forever change the lives of all those involved.
Today’s guest, Adam Makos, recounts this story and its aftermath in his book, A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II. The book, written with co-author Larry Alexander, details the wartime experiences of both the American pilot and his German counterpart. Neither man wanted war, but both answered their country’s call to action. Their encounter in the sky that fateful day spoke to a pilot’s code of honor and the need to recognize humanity in a world gone mad.
Adam Makos is a journalist, historian and editor of the military magazine, Valor. In this capacity, he has interviewed countless veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and present-day wars. In 2008, he traveled to Iraq to accompany the 101st Airborne and Army Special Forces on their hunt for Al Qaeda terrorists.