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BizAVIATION continued from page 27 often ask where we were,” Schaefer said. “Most of the time I would tell them. But now and then I was busy trying to navigate, so I would say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re in like Flynn. Everything is going to be OK.’ “That got to be kind of a joke with the crew. So anytime anyone would ask, ‘What’s that over there?’ or ‘Where are we?’ somebody would respond, ‘Don’t worry, we’re in like Flynn.’ ” Curiously, Schaefer first yearned to be a horseman, not a flyboy. “I began my military career in the horse cavalry ROTC at the University of Arizona,” he recalled. “Our class of advanced ROTC training was the last class to have horses.” In the book, Schaefer provide a birds-eye view of historically important aerial attacks and battles – such as the bombing missions that permitted Allied forces to move from France into Germany by crossing the Rhine River, the annihilation of Dresden, and Czechoslovakian aerial attacks clearing the way for an infantry onslaught led by U.S. General George Patton. “Crossing the Rhine was the largest airborne battle the world has ever seen – and will ever see,” Schaefer said during an interview at his home. “I think it was the most decisive battle of the war. It proved to be the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.” The most chilling moments of the book come from descriptions of near-death experiences. One example was the recounting of a mission over southern Germany in which Schaefer was directly hit by a piece of flak – German antiaircraft projectiles that exploded into shrapnel after reaching a certain elevation. The shrapnel was feared by American airmen because it could, and often did, bring down entire airplanes. “While the clear weather improved our bombing accuracy, it also improved the German flak gunners’ accuracy and we caught some close ones. One B-17 in the group behind us blew up – the biggest pieces we could see falling were the engines. Everybody got hit a little. One close burst sent shrapnel through our nose, and a piece about the size of a nickel hit me in the chest. Fortunately, I always wore my big heavy flak suit when we were over our target and the flak didn’t go all the way through. I was knocked head-over-heels into the catwalk between the nose and the pilot’s compartment. I reattached my oxygen line and throat mike and continued navigating. I had a big bruise on my chest and was sore for a week. Otherwise, I was none the worse for this experience.” Schaefer also wrote about an incident 68 years after his military service that shows “the ghosts of war” are long lasting. He saw a clerk who was wearing a shirt with the name Swinefurt on it. “Swinefurt was the ball-bearing center for all of Germany and the 8th Air Force really wanted to knock it out. The Luftwaffe came up with all their might and our Air Force lost more than 60 B-17s on that one mission. Over 600 of our men were lost in a single day. Chills and goose bumps appeared on my arms and I had to stand quietly for a moment to regain my composure.”

Biz

Schaefer’s book is available at the Pima Air & Space Museum gift shop. 28 BizTucson

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Winter 2014

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The Tucson Region's Business Magazine