|Last Name: `
|Street: 440 Raintree Court unit 2-S||City & State: Glen Ellyn,, IL||E-Mail: PMCAVENY@CS.COM|
|Zip: 60137||Phone: 630-858-8804||Spouse: HELEN|
|Conflict: WWII||Service Branch: Army Air Corp||Unit: 8TH AF, 100TH bg 349TH SQN.|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: MUNSTER GERMANY||Date Captured: 10/10/43|
|Camps Held In: STALAG 17B||How Long Interned: 571 days|
|liberated / repatriated: Liberated||Date Liberated: 05/03/45||Age at Capture: 22|
|Medals Received: GOOD CONDUCT, AIR OFFENSIVE OVER Europe, AIR MEDAL, POW MEDAL|
|Military Job: FLT ENG., BALLTURRET OPERATOR||Company: ILLINI MOTOR CO. OLDSMOBILE & CADILLAC|
|Occupation after War: AUTO SALES MANAGER|
I was born and raised in central Illinois, third oldest of eight children of Peter and Mayme Caveny. At twenty-one, I enlisted in the Army Air Corp. I attended Las Vegas gunnery school on December 7, 1942 and Airplane Mechanics School in March 1943. I married my high school sweetheart, Helen, on January 27, 1943 while in Amarillo, Texas. I was sent to Moses Lake, Washington and named flight engineer on a B-17 crew. I trained there for three months then flew to Europe by way of Labrador, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. Our final destination was Merry Old England. I was assigned to the 349th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group, part of the Eighth Air Force.
Our pilot was Lt. Edward Stork; copilot, Lt. John Minerich; bombardier, Lt. Arthur Twitchell; navigator, Lt. John Gibbons; top turret, Sgt. Larry Willey; radio, Sgt. Stefan Palmer; waist gunners Sgts. Doug Brown and Gordon Shields; tail gunner, Sgt. Ira Turner, and ball turret Sgt. Paul Caveny.
Our group took an unmerciful beating with heavy losses on many missions. On October 8, 1943 we hit the U-boat pens at Bremen and came home on one engine. This was unheard of at that time. Our crew was credited with many downed enemy fighter planes. I received credit for a ME-109 kill. The next mission was the shipyards in the Polish corridor. Our losses from enemy activity were not as high, but some of our planes did not have the fuel capacity for that distance and had to ditch or land in a Scandinavian country. Our plane “Miss Carriage” sustained enough damage to prevent flying on the next mission.
Sunday, October 10, 1943, our briefing was to Munster, Germany and the target was the town center, which caused concern for some. We flew a reserve B-17, “Forever Yours.” We were jumped early by a horde of German fighters and we downed many. Two planes left our formation and attached to another group. This left the 100th with just six planes over the target and even more at the mercy of the enemy. In the end we lost our whole group and we had to bail out. We lost our navigator, John Gibbons to a chute failure and Stefan Palmer to hanging partisans. A farmer with a double barrel shotgun and his dog picked me up. We were shipped by boxcar to Frankfort for three days of interrogation and then to Krems, Austria, Stalag 17-B, arriving October 19, 1943.
We were young and survived despite little food and no heat in the old wood barracks. Help from Red Cross parcels kept us alive. We probably lost an average of 35-40 pounds each during captivity. We dug many tunnels for escapes, traded our meager food with each other and played some softball to pass the time. The guards marched us out of the camp in March 1945 when the Russians took Vienna 40 kilometers away. Patton’s Third Army liberated us on May 3, 1945. We arrived back in the United States in late June 1945.
After the war I was employed as a Sales Manager for many years for an Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealer. Helen and I raised four great children and are enjoying our six grandchildren.
Last year I applied for and was granted one hundred percent disability. I belong to the local state and national chapters of X-POW’s. We try to go to all the national 17-B reunions and now to the national AX-POW conventions. See you there!
|My Message to Future Generations:
|Black Thursday, B-17 Super Fortress in Trouble|
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