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World War II Hero Reunites With B-17 Bomber

pilot pic World War II Hero Reunites With B 17 Bomber

World War II pilot C.B. Perdue reunites with a B-17 bomber 67 years after he was shot down over Germany. (credit: KTVT/KTXA)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Most reunion stories involve long-lost friends or family members, but this one is about a man and his airplane. The last time that C.B. Perdue was close to a B-17 bomber, he was bailing out of one from 20,000 feet over northern Germany during World War II. But now, 67 years later, he is airborne again in his beloved plane.

“Looks familiar,” he said. “Sure does.”

Climbing on board the Collings Foundation B-17, nicknamed the 909, Perdue is instantly transported to April 7, 1945. That day, he was just 20 years old and flying on his 25th military mission. “We were on a mission to bomb an airfield north of Hamburg, in a little town called Kaltenkirchen,” he recalled. “I was in the nose of the airplane, flying in place of the bombardier.”

All of the gun turrets were manned during what was supposed to be a milk run — an easy mission — but out of nowhere, a German fighter attacked the plane. “He came up to the rear of us and shot the tail of the B-17 off, scored a direct hit on the tail,” Perdue said. In a matter of seconds, that milk run became a run for their lives.

Through an escape hatch, Perdue and four others on the nine-person crew managed to get out. That hatch is the only thing that allowed Perdue to survive. “This is where,” Perdue started, tearing up while looking over the plane, “I jumped out.”

Perdue still has the jacket that he was wearing when he bailed out in 1945. The letters “USA” are handwritten on the front — scribbled by a German soldier to identify Perdue as a prisoner of war. After his capture, Perdue was taken to Hamburg for interrogation, then to Stalag 1 in Barth, where he was held until liberation.

That was the last time that Perdue flew a B-17 — until now.

For the first time since his bailout, the 87-year-old American war hero roared skyward in a B-17, traveling from Dallas Love Field to Waco. That gave him just enough time to man the nose turret once again, share stories with his great-grandsons and reflect on a proud service to his country — which included a number of medals, including the Purple Heart. It was a plane ride 67 years in the making. “It means a lot to me,” Perdue said. “In a way, it saved my life. Even though we got shot down, I got back.”

“After flying 25 of those missions,” Perdue said, wiping away tears, “I made it home.”

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  • Mike Bradley

    Great story!

  • Grateful American

    Thanks to Mr. Perdue and all the brave young men and women from the “Greatest Generation” who served our country and liberated many from the horrors of the Axis armies. These men and women came home to become our parents and grandparents and have our undying gratitude. Those brave young men and women who didn’t make it back are in God’s hands but will forever remain in our hearts. Bless ’em all !!!

    • norulers

      They were all duped. All they did was make the world safe for Joe Stalin.

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  • norulers

    There are NO heroes in war- only murderers and survivors.

    • Aimee

      My grandfather was and still is a hero. We are so fortunate for him to be with us today and for him to be able to tell his story. There are so many that have no idea the sacrifices that were and are still being made for our freedom. His honorable legacy will live on through his children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren.

      • norulers

        “Freedom?” WHAT freedom? The freedom to have a government agent stick his hand down your pants at the airport? The “freedom “ to have them spy on you, kidnap you, cage you, and even kill you anytime, for any reason, and at any time they feel like it? If this is YOUR kind of freedom, why don’t you move to North Korea with the other slaves? That’s where you belong.
        BTW, my father fought along side this coot in the story and took one of Hitler’s bullets. He feels the same way!

  • PJ

    Thanks Mr. Perdue. You ARE a hero!

  • Richard

    What a wonderful story about a true American hero. Is there a video I can see?

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  • Jerry Moore

    God Bless you C.B. Most of us appreciate your service.

  • Linda Snodgrass

    I appreciate all media efforts to educate our young people about service to our country whether in the armed forces or through service in other government agencies. Maybe this story will inspire a few more to honor those who sacrificed so that we have the freedom to post our thoughts on major TV and newspaper websites and live in a country unafraid that militias will come through our town and shoot our families and neighbors.

    • norulers

      Poor Linda. When has any militia shot ANYONE? However, your “armed forces” and “government agencies” have slaughtered tens of thousands! Who murdered all the women and children at Waco? Who shot a mother holding her child at Ruby Ridge? Who has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East and Africa? Who has gunned down people defending their homes from armed state thugs in the murderous Drug War?
      I’ll take any peace loving militia manned by sovereign, liberty minded individuals than pathetic, obedient slaves who love their state master while babbling how “free” they are.
      You obviously LOVE tyranny. Please move to North Korea. For you, it will be heaven.

  • Richard

    norulers – if you lived in North Korea you would be dead by now. Moron.

    • norulers

      Which is why I don’t live there- moron. Which is why I’m working to keep THIS part of the world from becoming like THAT part of the world- moron. THIS part of the world is QUICKLY becoming like THAT part of the world, which you apparently are unable to understand, which makes you a bootlicking, moronic slave that would THRIVE in THAT part of the world.

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