LT Ringler's crew.
Standing (L to R): William Ringler (P), Charles Mercer (CP), James Rodgers (N), Merle Medley (B). Front (L to R): William Krampe (FE), Bruce Gipson (R/O), Charles Loomer (WG), ? Gomez (extra crewman who transferred to LT Davis' crew), Gerald Dubs (BG), Charles Sibray (TG). This photo was taken stateside.
The crews 28th mission on Feb 22, '45 went well through bombs away. The primary target was overcast with a snow storm and the 486th proceeded to Ansbach as the secondary target. The formation bombed from a nominal altitude of 8,000 ft. Just after bombs-away the R/O reported a hit in the left wing. The ball gunner reported smoke from the engine. LT Ringler informed the crew to prepare to abandon ship. SGT Sibray, in the tail, had to disconnect himself form his interphone to get himself ready. By the time he had put his interphone back on he had missed the order to jump. SGT Sibray checked in with LT Ringler but received no response. Since the plane continued to fly straight and level SGT Sibray did not become concerned and resumed his station.
A P51 approached from behind which led SGT Sibray to believe the lack of response from the pilot was due to his communicating to the escort fighter. SGT Sibray picked up a lamp to flash at the 51, which soon left. At this point SGT Sibray noticed his interphone cord was disconnected. Curious, SGT Sibray worked his way forward only to find the waist area empty and the waist door gone. Entering the flight deck SGT Sibray was amazed to find no one at the controls and the auto pilot light blinking. Making his way back aft SGT Sibray hooked his chute to his harness, but failed to tie his shoes to his harness from growing concern for his safety. SGT Sibray finally "hit the silk" and landed behind friendly lines.
SGT Sibray has the distinction of crewing in a stricken B17 with only the autopilot working the controls for an hour and a half. Not only was he fortunate to have survived this episode, but his solo flight also put him over friendly territory when he jumped. The remainder of his crew jumped over Germany and were interred for the rest of the war. It was later learned that a tail gunner on another B17 had fired his guns and caused the damage to the plane Ringler's crew flew in.
|Name||Rank||Position||First Mission||Last Mission||Status|
|William H. Ringler||LT||Pilot||??/??/44||02/22/45||POW|
|William Krampe||SGT||Flight Engineer/Top||02/22/45||POW|
|Bruce Gipson||SGT||Radio Operator/Waist||02/22/45||POW|
|Charles Sibray||SGT||Tail||Completed tour.|
|109||11/27/44||The Last Roundup||TG||43-37927||B17G|
|115||12/12/44||Rack and Ruin||NT||43-37899||B17G|
|126||01/03/45||Pursuit of Happiness||TH||43-37931||B17G|
Completed 26 Missions
|Created 01/30/99||Modified 12/23/16|
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