People like a good story—particularly if it's true. In 2006, I fell upon an incredible story that had remained untold for over sixty years. When I learned that the crew of a B-25 bomber was shot down over Italy during World War II and that the pilot got his crew off the plane before it crashed into a mountain with him in it, I became curious. When I learned that two crew members evaded the enemy for two months by living in a cave, and that two families risked their lives to help them, I became even more curious.
It took me four years to satisfy my curiosity. The deeper I dug, the more fascinated I was by what I found. One of the most intriguing revelations was that none of the six surviving crew members told their families very much about their experiences in Nazi-occupied Italy after they were shot down.
As I learned more through my reading, research and discussions, I developed a deep respect for the pilot, his crew and the two Italian families who helped two American airmen in distress during the war.
Along the way, I learned a great deal about the war in Italy and the contribution of air power to an Allied victory. I also saw the havoc that a powerful dictator who seeks more power through force can bring upon his country. Moreover, I saw the human spirit shining through despite the inhumanity of war.
Through it all, I gained an appreciation of the B-25 Mitchell bomber and those who courageously flew it in combat, most notably the crew that sparked my interest in the project. It was also gratifying that my curiosity led to two men being honored for their courage and humanity on Liberation Day, April 25, 2008—a public holiday on which Italians celebrate the day in 1945 on which they were liberated from Fascist rule and Nazi occupation.
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