Cecil Warren Minard (far right) -- son of Edward Harrison Minard and grandson of Dewitt Minard of Deer Park, Maryland -- poses with fellow crew members of a B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber during World War II. Cecil was a technical sergeant, engineer and top turret gunner with the 490th Bomber Group, 8th U.S. Air Force, taking part in 27 missions, and receiving the Purple Heart.
During one frighteningly memorable mission, Cecil's formation was attacked by five German Messerschmitt 109 fighters. His airplane was rammed and heavily damaged (with gaping holes and large dents seen here) by a "wildly careening German fighter that inflicted a cut like a giant can-opener," said a Maryland newspaper. They "got back to friendly territory safely by playing a grim game of hide-and-seek in the clouds with stalking enemy planes." After an emergency landing in France, the crew returned to England the next day.
The air battle is described more fully in the 1997 book The Last Flight of the Luftwaffe: the Fate of Schulungslehrgang Elbe, 7 April 1945, by Adrian Weir, published by Arms & Armour Press, London. The volume details an almost suicidal attempt by the German Luftwaffe at the end of the war to inflict heavy damage on Allied bombers in a desperate attempt to buy time for new German jet fighters to be placed into service. More >>>