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Colorado POW's return to site of World War II

9:09 AM, May 23, 2008   |    comments
Mr Robert Ball (back right) and the 92nd Bomb Group. (The Greatest Generation Foundation)
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This week, the pilots will travel to England and Germany for ten days, seeing their original bomb base and then visit the cities they bombed throughout World War II.

"I get very emotional talking about it, not sure how I am going to feel reliving that experience" said 1st Lt. Clayton Nattier, pilot of a B-17 with the 306th Bomb Group.

"It was September 13th, 1944. I was on a mission to bomb Murseburg, Germany when heavy flack from the German 88's damaged the wing of my B-17 over Nazi Germany," said Nattier.

"I called for the crew to bail out, only three made it out; seven of my men were lost on that mission" said Nattier recalling that fateful day.

With third-degree burns to his face, arms and neck, the German Army was waiting below.

"I was surprised by the treatment they provided," said Nattier.

A German Medic then treated Nattier for his wounds, and was transferred to a Prisoner of War camp in northwest Germany known as Stalag 1.

Also returning back to Europe is POW veteran 1st Lt. Robert Ball.

Ball flew 9 missions as a bombardier with the 401st Squadron with the 91st Bomb Group until August 12th, 1943 over Gelsenkirchen Germany; two German Messerschmitt 109 fighters came in from the south, tearing holes into the fuselage, forcing the crew to bail out.

Ball was taken prisoner and then transferred to Stalag III, famously known for the 1963 Hollywood film, "The Great Escape."

"I spent 21 months in the camp working continually on escape efforts as part of a tunnel crew constructing wooden horse for the big escape, some of which failed," said Ball.

When Ball wasn't working on tunnels, he was serving as POW Special Aid General A.W Vanaman.

The trip is made possible by Denver-based, The Greatest Generations Foundation "TGGF" a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to assist, and document the war experience of World War II veterans, by revisiting their fields of battle free of charge to the veterans.

For more information on the organization or to find out how to donate toward future trips, call The Greatest Generations Foundation at 303.331.1944, or visit www.tggf.us.

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