1/Lt. Brooks J. Liles
1/Lt. Brooks J. Liles
343rd FS 28 September 1944 - 03 March 1945 (Prisoner of War)
P-51K CY-Q 44-14175 "Sweet Marie II"
14 January 1945 FW-190 destroyed (air) W/Salzwedel
|Notes||Entered service from Clayton, North Carolina.
ASN - O-744720
28 September 1944 - Joined the 343rd Fighter Squadron
February 1945 - Awarded 4th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal
February 1945 - Awarded 5th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal
February 1945 - Awarded 6th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal
03 March 1945 - Prisoner of War
Taken prisoner of war after Lt. Howes crashed whilst trying to take-off, having picked up Lt. Liles, who had crash-landed. Full story below (Source - Double Nickel - Double Trouble - LtCol. Robert M. Littlefield)
|Memories||Lts. Howes and Liles lives were intertwined beginning with
flight training days as noted by their serial numbers which are only 10
numbers apart. They went overseas together and were assigned to the same
fighter squadron. 1 /Lt. Howes was an Ace and 1 /Lt. Liles became an Ace
with combined victories in World War II and Korea. They were close friends
and had agreed that if one went down the other would do everything in his
power to come to the rescue. Lt. Howes was put to the test on 3 March
1945. His story is one of the unparalleled acts of bravery of World War
1 /Lt. Marvin Satenstein reported: "At about 1300 hours on 3 March, 1945, while cruising around at about 2,000 feet in the Prague (Czechoslovakia) area looking for targets of opportunity, Prague/Letnany airdrome was observed full of parked A/C. My flight, Red flight, and the remainder of Yellow flight decided to attack it. We did so, making our passes individually. On Lt. Liles' pass from north to south he was hit on the right side of his engine by light flak from the guns at the southwest end of the field. I observed flame coming from the engine. Lt. Liles said that he had been hit. I was directly above and behind him and could see that he had the A/C under control but could not get much power. He flew the A/C for about 3 or 4 miles south of the airdrome where he bellied it in successfully on an open field. I saw Lt. Liles get out of the A/C, just after that it caught fire.
"The remaining six A/C circled the spot, and Lt. Howes, Tudor Yellow 3, called over the R/T that he was going to land to try to pick up Lt. Liles. After one try, Lt. Howes made a successful landing in the same field. After discarding their parachutes both Howes and Liles were able to get into the aircraft it appeared as if it was hard to get the plane started rolling from its parked position. As they started to roll, Howes called, 'Gang, keep your fingers crossed and we'll make it.' The A/C rose into the air once, but apparently didn't have enough flying speed because it settled to the ground again. Then it bounced into the air, dropped off on its left wing in a stalled attitude, and cartwheeled to the left eventually flattening out. The A/C caught fire but when I buzzed the wreck I saw both Howe and Liles walking away in an easterly direction towards a large highway. Both pilots looked alright and they waved to me as I passed over them."
Lt. Howes stated, after the war, that they both discarded their parachutes so they could squeeze into the single seat of the tiny cockpit. At this time they started taking intense small arms fire from near the airdrome. The takeoff roll was good, but just prior to lift off there was a moment of hesitation and their plane struck a ditch, bounced into the air and cartwheeled to a stop. Liles suffered a broken nose and other minor injuries. Howes received a severe blow on the forehead which resulted in a temporary blindness that lasted for two days. A single bullet had hit the throttle quadrant which reduced power at the critical time of take-off. The two ran for cover with Liles leading the blinded Howes by the hand. They were both caught by the Luftwaffe a number of hours later. They were taken to Prague and interrogated and received treatment in a local hospital. A move to Oberursel for further interrogation was followed by a short stay at Dulag Luft, Wetzlar, and after that to Stalag Luft III. They ended up at Stalag VII A at Moosburg. Part of this gruelling experience was their 19 day march to Moosburg. Lt. Howe's diet of bread and barley soup reduced his weight from 160 pounds to 126 pounds in the two months that he was imprisoned.
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