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B17 Flying Fortress ''Black Thursday''

Edward D. McKenzie, Author Ed and Hans Berger meeting 1997

Last Name: `
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Street:  #41 WILDWOOD RD. City & State: ALBANY, NH E-Mail:  XPOWHIST@NCIA.net
Zip: 03818 Phone:  Spouse: MAXINE
Conflict: WWII, KOREA Service Branch: Army Air Corp Unit: 92ND BOMB GROUP, 326 SQD. B17 GUNNER
Theater: Where Captured: BUBACH, GERMANY Date Captured: 04/24/44
Camps Held In: STALAG 17B How Long Interned: 379 days
liberated / repatriated: Liberated Date Liberated: 05/08/45 Age at Capture: 19
Military Job: ARMOR GUNNER (B.T. )B17 Company: BAY STATE GAS CO.
Occupation after War:  UTILITIES MGMT.

Military Bio:

Ed McKenzie

Edward McKenzie’s service with Army Air Corps in WWII was not too different from that of thousands of other young men. He had always wanted to fly, and by volunteering for the draft on his 18th birthday he was able to select the Air Corps Basic training at Miami Beach. Then it was on to air bases in Colorado for both fighter and bomber armament schooling and to Laredo, Texas for training in aerial gunnery.

After crew training in the B-17 at Sioux City, Iowa his crew joined the 8th Air Force 92nd Bomb Group in England there to take part in the great air war raging over Europe. On April 24, 1944 he was taken from his regular crew to fly his fifth mission as a replacement ball turret gunner with another crew. After hitting the target, an aircraft factory complex outside of Munich, their airplane named the Toonerville Trolley was shot down in flames by a German fighter. Some bailed out but, unable to exit his turret in time, Ed and a few others rode the plane down to a crash landing on a Bavarian hillside. Within the next twelve hours all were taken prisoner.

After the procedures of becoming a POW, he was shipped to Stalag XVII-B in Krems, Austria there to exist during the last year of the war.

It was fifty-two years later when his experiences associated with the war became different from most others and perhaps unique. A young history teacher in Germany found photos in an old family album showing the B-17 Toonerville Trolley lying on a hillside near a small village with a cherry tree lodged in its wing. The historian was able to find the identity of the B-17 and the men who flew in it. The 92nd Bomb Group Association was contacted and forwarded a letter from Klaus Zimmer asking Ed McKenzie if he would be interested in seeing some of the photos. He was indeed and he helped to find a few other survivors.

Ultimately the tail gunner was also found and the two crew men were invited to the German village to meet with historians, people who remembered the crash and who helped with the capture. Then came the greatest surprise of all. The Luftwaffe pilot credited with that particular “abschuss” or shoot down had been found and would be there to meet with them and join in the holiday-like ceremonies to be held at the site of the crash. Thus it was that Hans Berger and the two B-17 men joined in three days of meetings, events, public discussions and official presentations.

These were the unique experiences that prompted Ed McKenzie to create the book, with special assistance from historian Klaus Zimmer, pilot Hans Berger, Stalag XVII-B leader K. H. Kurtenbach and Ex-POW Ralph Lavoie, the man who was thought to have been killed while escaping. The book was first published in 1998 with many illustrations and first person accountings by those involved and in 2000 went back on the market in second edition. Since the story covered both the German-American war meeting of 1944 and peaceful meeting of 1996, then “Boys at War, Men at Peace” was thought to be an appropriate title.

The gap of 52 years for Ed McKenzie was filled by marriage and family, college training in business and a career with several New England utilities before retirement to a new home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. His hobbies over those years included history and archeology and the publication of books and articles about regional history and Indian archeology.

600 words 6/13/00

My Message to Future Generations:

Three Villagemen watch over Toonerville Trolley 1944 “Boys at War, Men at Peace” GO TO BOOKS THIS WEBSITE

Luftwaffe FW190 Pilot Hans G. Berger 1944 Meeting of Ex-Combatents in the sky, Berger, Weiner, McKenzie, Blaylock

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