On February 9, 1945, George Emerson was in the tail position (tail gunner) as his B-17 bomber flew toward their target for the day, an oil refinery in Lutzkendorf, Germany. The B-17 soon came under attack from anti-aircraft fire, and another B-17 flying near Emerson’s bomber was hit, causing it to lose control and collide with Emerson’s plane. The tail section of the bomber, with Emerson still inside , was severed from the rest of the aircraft and began to fall towards the ground from about 25,000 feet.
During the fall, Emerson was thrown out of the tail section, and guesses that it must have been at around 10,000 feet when he came to and somehow managed to open his chute. He landed in an open field, and other than a gash between his eyebrows, he was physically okay. The remainder of his crew mates were killed. German farmers immediately turned Emerson over to the German military and he became a prisoner of war until he and other POW’s were liberated on April 29, 1945.
On October 19, 1991, Emerson’s crash site was discovered by Uwe Benkel and his group of crash site investigators. Mr. Benkel states “When we located the crash site we found some personal items of the crew members, including wedding bands . We did some research and found out that there had been one lone survivor of the plane crash. His names was George Emerson. We decided to erect a memorial at the crash site and we invited George and his wife to come to Germany for the ceremony. It was very moving and we have remained in contact with George and his wife Edmee since that day. We are so glad that we were able to bring some closure to this family and the families of the crew members who perished.”