AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER BASE - A pilot temporarily blinded by Plexiglas splinters, and a copilot painfully wounded in the leg recently fought a winning battle, flying their B17 "Flying Fortress" from a bombing of the rail yards at Mannheim, Germany, to a successful landing at this Eighth Air Force Base.
As the bomb run began, FLAK tore through the Fort's nose ripping into the instrument panel and hurling Plexiglas and steel splinters all over the cockpit. 1st LT Gerson Bacher, pilot, caught some of the splintered glass in the eyes, while 2nd LT Nathan Spungin, copilot, was hit in the leg.
LT Bacher was unable to keep his eyes open because of the intense pain. LT Spungin could not move his torn leg. But, like the lame leading the blind, the copilot call the signals and guided the bomber while the pilot worked the foot controls. Both flyers refused sedatives to ease the pain, claiming, "We still have a crate to fly!"
Cooperating all the way, they maintained their formation position as deputy lead until clearing enemy skies, after which they struck out alone for home.
LT Bacher, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Cohn, Bayonne, N.J., was employed by the General Motors Corporation at Linden. His wife, Mrs. Mildred Bacher, lives with his parents.
LT Spungin, whose wife, Mrs. Alice Spungin, and two daughters live in Tamp, FL, is the son of Mrs. Fanny Spungin, Harrisonburg, PA. He was in the meat packing business before the war.
Copyright © 1998-2016, by Clarence F. Kooi and the 486th Bomb Group Association.