384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in World War II

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Home / 384th After WWII / The 384th Bomb Group Veterans Signing Project / Jack G. Garstak [7]

Jack Garstak signed the wing panel on 20 January 2014, at his home in Davie, Florida. Garstak was a Radio Operator in the 547th Bombardment Squadron. He joined the 384th with the George Ruckman Crew in December 1944, and served with the Group through the end of the war. He flew 20 combat missions, including #316, the final strategic bombing mission of the war in Europe. He told the story of making a forced landing in Poland on 3 February 1945 after their aircraft was damaged in combat. With the help of another downed B-17 crew, and a downed fighter pilot, they were able to repair their aircraft and fly it out. Local residents helped them in their labor: at one point cutting down a telephone pole to make a scissor frame hoist to change an engine. Reluctant Russian officials were won over when the pilot told them that he would turn it over to them when it was repaired. However, the crew had other ideas! Telling the Russians they would not consider giving it to them until they had proven the repairs had been done correctly by test flying the aircraft, they all boarded the B-17 and took off. Using only Russian maps and charts, they navigated to Italy, and then back to England. Many more details can be found in "Memories."

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