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Piggy Back – Paul Zak

Piggy Back As Reported By Paul Zak

3542-22nd Avenue
Kenosha, WI. 53140
Oct 16, 91

I’m writing to provide you with my knowledge of December 31. 1944 air raid over Hamburg.

I flew on Harold Bucklew’s crew, on the Silver Dollar, in the ball turret. My first sighting of an enemy aircraft occurred, I believe, while on the bomb run. An FW 190 was being pursued by a P-51 and they flew past us at about fifty feet to our left. A few seconds later, I saw debris of the FW falling past us.

Looking behind and to fifty feet to the left of our aircraft, I saw two B-17’s flying together in formation and each hadone engine on fire. After a few seconds, they separated from each other. They were about four hundred feet apart and slightly parallel with each other for a few minutes, when they both exploded almost simultaneously.

I then looked below to the right of my aircraft, where I saw FW 190’s making their attacks on a formation of B-17’s. One of the FW’s, after making his pass at this squadron, turned upward and started to approach my aircraft. I had him framed perfectly in my reticles and fired at him when he came into range. The FW disappeared in a puff of black smoke and I called on the intercom that I got the FW. I thought it exploded but a few seconds later, most of the smoke cleared and he was still there, only now a small amount of smoke was coming from his engine. The FW pilot put the nose of his plane down and headed away in a shallow glide. I watched him until he got out of sight. I’m sure he turned away because he received some damage.

The next thing that I noticed was a lot of fighter planes falling in flames about a mile behind us. I couldn’t see above where the dog fights were taking place, but I did see the fighters falling almost like rain. I could hardly believe my eyes. The planes stopped falling after awhile, but a few seconds later I saw another bunch of planes coming down, it seemed like all at one time. The falling then slowed up and stopped. I remember that at the time, it reminded me of a bunch of burning match-sticks coming down.

After leaving the target area, we found ourselves flying alone toward the North Sea. To our left, was McNabb’s B-17 flying alone toward the coast and to the left of his and behind was Glenn Rojohn’s plane. A few minutes later, Rojohn’s plane passed over the top of McNabb’s they touched and stuck together. They were flying as one plane, an unbelievable sight! Smoke was pouring out of one of Rojohn’s right engines and the two planes stuck together, began making a large circle turn to the left. I called our navigator, to give him the tail numbers of both aircraft. I also counted the chutes that came from both planes. All this time, the two planes kept making a large circle to the left. Although we were flying away from them, I could see that the circles kept moving them toward land. I saw a German patrol boat heading in the direction of some of the chutes coming down. I watched the two planes locked together until they, disappeared from my vision.

At the Long Beach Reunion, I met and talked to Rojohn and his crew, along with some members of McNabb’s crew, about the Piggyback Ride over Hamburg. I told them that I was the one that reported their tall numbers and this information was given at the debriefing.

Sincerely,

Paul Zak (Was known in the 100th as Paul Zakarivich..pw)
100th Bomb Group
418th Squadron