WI man shot down in B-17 during WWII takes first flight - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

WI man shot down in B-17 during WWII takes first flight

APPLETON (WAOW)-- Thousands of planes will take off and land at Wittman Field in Oshkosh during this years EAA Airventure.  One flight left the ground with some very special people onboard.

"When a B-17 flies you can tell it, not even see it, you can tell it's a B-17.  It's got a sound all it's own."

WWII veteran Jim Sorenson knows that sound all too well.  The Green Bay man looked out the window of a B-17 as a waist gunner on eight missions over Europe before his plane was shot down by enemy fire in 1944.

Sorenson remembers, "Our target was an oil refinery in a small town about 90 miles south of Berlin.  Previously, about a week before that, our group went and attacked the same target and really took a beating.  On this particular day, that I got shot down, we were the only one from our group that got hit.  We had dropped our bombs and were away from our target when we got a direct hit in our Number Two engine.  Another one knocked the Number One engine out.  The prop feathered on Number Four engine.  With one engine, you don't go very far in a B-17.  There's only one way to go and that's down."

Sorenson and the nine other men on board were taken captive and held as prisoners of war.  He spent several months locked in a prison camp.  After it was evacuated, he was forced to march back and forth across the northern part of Germany.

"Comparing the march to the camp, the camp was rather luxurious, Sorenson says.  The worst part was food.  You were always hungry and cold."

Then the marching stopped.

"Pretty soon the guards started disappearing and we were left alone.  Pretty soon we were liberated by the British. I think it was their Second Army.  So, pretty soon some British troops showed up and the war was ended, at least in Germany and we were free to go. So, where do you go?"

The former prisoners found their way west to an airfield.  They were airlifted out of Germany, taken to a sea port in France and sent home on a hospital ship.

Sorenson hasn't flown since then.  This EAA flight is his first in a B-17 in 67 years.

He adds. "It was a thrill.  I never thought I'd experience flying in a B-17 again but it was great.  I really appreciate it."

Another WWII veteran was also on the flight.  He flew 35 missions with the Air force before the war ended.

Online Reporter:  Cami Mountain

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