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An Airman’s Story of Survival by Thomas Glide
Thomas Glide

May, 2012/ ISBN 978-0-615-615318
History / Military /Fiction

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

In the fall of 1944, the B-17 Bomber, “The Purple Heart” took off from an airbase in Suffolk, England. Its assignment, destroy German industrial facilities and then hightail it back home. The first part of the mission went according to plan, but the trip home was quite troublesome. On the way back to England the bomber group found the sky full of flak. Perhaps that’s what hit the plane flying above The Purple Heart. Exactly what happened wasn’t clear, things were moving faster than the mind could calculate. In any case the plane above them came crashing right through the B-17 flying fortress, shearing it in half and sending it into a death spiral.

Radioman Sgt. Jack Glide found himself falling through space. His parachute eventually deployed, even though Sgt. Glide couldn’t remember pulling the ripcord. He came down over a field in Germany, where a group of farmers were waiting for him. And they weren’t friendly; they were shooting at him as he descended. He landed in the field with a bullet in his thigh, and the angry farmers converged on him. The German Army wasn’t far behind, but they weren’t any better. The officer who took Sgt. Glide into custody was wearing an SS uniform and seemed convinced that his prisoner was Jewish, even though the dog tags identified him as Catholic.

The story continues to Sgt. Glide’s internment at Stalag Luft Four in Tychow, Poland, where he spends the remainder of the war. Living in a prisoner of war camp is not an easy life, and prisoners have to learn survival skills. Sgt. Glide connects with a fellow prisoner who has had enough first aid training to treat and probably save his wounded, and now infected leg. Another hardship of being a POW is not knowing if your loved ones are aware of your situation. It’s especially difficult for airmen, who are shot out of the sky. The Army has no real way of telling if there are any survivors or who they are. For Sgt. Glide, it was over a month before he was allowed to send a letter Eileen, his sweetheart back home.

This is a compelling story made up of facts that Sgt. Jack Glide had saved in a journal. He kept records of every significant event for the duration of his captivity. A talented artist, he added illustrations to his diary that make his story even more dramatic. Like so many combat veterans, Jack Glide was reluctant to talk about his wartime experiences, preferring to leave them where he felt they belonged, in the past. It was only after his passing that his son, Tom, came across the journals and learned of his father’s heroic and amazing odyssey.

I’m sure that Sgt. Jack Glide would be proud of the way that his son presented the saga. This is really one of those books that you cannot put down.

Reviewer & Columnist Dennis Collins is the author of Turn Left at September, The Unreal McCoy, The First Domino, and Nightmare
Reviewed 2012