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Inspired by movies and newsreels, Paul “Bud” Haedike wanted nothing more than to become a fighter pilot and take the fight to the Luftwaffe over the skies of Europe. Fate however, would place Paul in the nose of B-17 Flying Fortress dropping payloads of destruction across Germany.
As part of the Eighth Air Force, Haedike’s baptism by fire would come fast and hard. As a rookie crew, on their first combat mission, their bomber would be the last plane in formation to pass over the target - A position known as ‘Tail End Charlie’.
By the time Haedike dropped his payload the German anti-aircraft positions had zeroed in their 88 millimeter cannons and were able to knock out the number one and two engines on Haedike’s bomber. Through sheer skill and determination the pilot of the crippled bomber made it past the German lines and was able to crash land in Belgium.
Paul “Bud” Haedike went on to fly 22 more missions.
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