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BizAVIATION

Navigating WWII Memories By David B. Pittman It happened more than 68 years ago, but Art Schaefer remembers the details as if it were yesterday. The 90-year-old Tucson author of “In Like Flynn” was 21 and serving as navigator aboard a B-17 bomber flying missions over Europe against Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. In writing his book of the bombing missions he flew for the U.S. Army’s 8th Air Force, Schaefer had help. He used the diary he kept all those years ago of every mission he ever flew – 27 combat missions and six food drops to starving civilians who were captives of the German occupation. “Each evening, after returning to my barracks, fit and thankful to be alive, and happy that the fear of having to ditch our plane in the North Sea was only temporary, I recorded the harrowing facts of the events of the day, to the best of my knowledge,” he wrote in the book’s prologue. “I did this so I would never, for the rest of my life, forget those events and the reasons why each was so important.” For years, the longtime mining executive and safety engineer didn’t speak of his wartime experiences. Like many World War II vets, he didn’t think of

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himself as a hero, but just one of 16.1 million Americans who crossed the ocean to do a job. And when that job was complete, these soldiers returned home to finish their educations, marry their sweethearts and build the United States into the greatest economic engine in history. These were the men Tom Brokaw aptly described as America’s “Greatest Generation.” So why, after so much time has passed, has the University of Arizona graduate conjured up old memories to write his first book? It was partly because of a close friend. John Davis, owner/operator of Arizona Lithographers, whose own late father was a B-17 pilot in World War II, urged Schaefer to write down his wartime memories as a legacy to his children and grandchildren. After Schaefer penned a few of his wartime experiences, he showed Davis, who was moved by Schaefer’s work and encouraged him to continue. “Reading Art’s recollections puts a humane and personal touch to the life and trials our servicemen who experienced flying daily from the relative safety of Britain,

over the English Channel into occupied territories, and finally into the heartland of the enemy,” wrote Davis in the book’s foreword. The cover of the book features a painting of an airborne “In Like Flynn.” It was painted by Schaefer’s wife, Mary, an accomplished artist who used old black-and-white photos and her husband’s memory in recreating the B-17. Schaefer was instrumental in the naming of the aircraft. “Being the navigator, I was the one person who knew where we were all the time. When we would fly over a town or a river, somebody in the crew would continued on page 28 >>>

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The Tucson Region's Business Magazine

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The Tucson Region's Business Magazine