December 21, 1994
Addendum to Oral History Interview
"On Christmas Day in 1945 another GI and I were killing time by watching action along The Front from the tower of a church in Langerwehe, Germany. The foul weather that had hindered our Air Corps during the Battle of the Bulge was lifting and our planes and a few German planes were out on sorties. As we were watching we suddenly heard the crackle of AA fire getting louder and louder. Then out of the haze there emerged three pursuit planes at treetop height heading northwest. Amid the heavy ground fire two of the planes began smoking. One of them plunged to the ground in a steep dive and was demolished in a black cloud of burning fuel. The other rose skyward trailing a cloud of smoke and about two or three miles farther on flipped over as the pilot parachuted out.
My friend and I hurried over to where the first plane had crashed, reaching it about the time the burning stopped. To our surprise we learned from the markings on some of the wreckage that it was an American Mustang which had been shot down. We poked about the wreckage which was strewn over a wide area and noted that there were some swastikas painted on pieces of the fuselage. Later in the day some very angry Air Crops officers interviewed us about the incident, but we could not tell them much beyond that we heard a lot of firing and saw the planes shot down.
A few years ago when reading an account of top Mustang Ace George Preddy being shot down by friendly fire on Christmas Day 1945, I began making inquiries, including at the Air Force Museum at Fairborn, Ohio at Wright Patterson Field. Preddy was listed as being shot down over Belgium, which would not have been correct if it was his plane I saw crash to earth. I was put in touch with Preddy biographer, Sam Cox, who was very interested, because the official account of Preddy's death was scrambled and vague. After some exchanges of information, it has become clear that it was, in fact, Preddy's plane that I saw plunge to earth at Langerwehe. Cox has advised that he is correcting his records. The Air Force Museum also has corrected its' records.
While this was a dramatic event it was a small incident in the huge carnage of war that was going on at the time."