Niagara Gazette

Features

August 18, 2013

Veteran B-17 pilot recalls bomber's role in WWII

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “I think the saddest memory that I have came on a bombing run,” Notebaert said. “The B-17 in front of us took a direct hit – the wings came right off and we saw all of the parachutes come out. But we noticed that one of the parachutes didn’t have a body in it, so one of the guys didn’t have time to strap in.”

Over the course of his missions, Notebaert was awarded several honors, including an air medal with nine oak leaf clusters.

After he completed his 50th mission, he rotated back to the states, where he became a flight instructor in New Mexico – at the ripe old age of 23, teaching the next generation how to fly B-17s.

“We really have no idea what it must have been like,” said son John Notebaert, who was on hand for Monday’s flight. “Twenty-one-year-olds nowadays have to decide if they want an Xbox or a Nintendo. When he was about that age, he was leading his crew of 10 men in a flight over the Atlantic Ocean to Africa in a war.”

After the war, Notebaert worked as a commercial pilot at National Gypsum for 33 years until he retired 30 years ago.

For more information on the Liberty Foundation or on the B-17s, check out www.libertyfoundation.org.

“It is truly an amazing experience,” said John Ferguson, a volunteer pilot with the Liberty Foundation. “It’s a rare opportunity to experience history, and it’s also a chance to honor our veterans and thank them for all that they did for us.”

Contact Eric Keppeler at lifestyle@gnnewspaper.com

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