Sunday, February 1, 2015

Shot Down: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth

Belgium ... February 8, 1944 ... Shot Down and Alive

For the first time, the full and complete story of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth is shared in unbelievable detail. Author Steve Snyder’s story of his father, Lieutenant Howard Snyder, and the Susan Ruth crew, provides in-depth details about many aspects of World War II few understand or know about including the:

• separation for young families as men went off to war;
• training before heading to foreign soil;
• military combat operations;
• underground and resistance and what Lt. Snyder did when he joined it;
• German atrocities toward captured crew and civilians;
• behind-the-scenes stories of the Belgium civilians who risked all to save American flyers who were in the air one moment, spiraling down in flames the next;
• creation and dedication of the monument to the Susan Ruth and its crew located in Macquenoise, Belgium in 1989

Shot Down was created from the vast number of letters and journals of Howard Snyder; diaries of men and women on the ground who rescued, sheltered and hid the crew; and interviews conducted by historians. Centered around the 306th Bomb Group in Thurleigh, England, it is informative, insightful and captivating.

For most, 70 years is a long time ago. World War II fades in importance as each year goes by. Shot Down moves history out of the footnotes into reality, keeping the stories of real people alive as they experience being shot down. You are there, almost holding your breath as Lt. Snyder gets his crew out of his B-17 when bailing out over Nazi occupied Europe.
My Review
My reader friends know by now that I am a huge fan of WWII stories. Of course one of my favorites in this genre are WWII aviation stories. Since I was little I have been fascinated by aviation. Some day I plan to pick up again my flying lessons and finish getting my pilot's license. Ok. enough about my interests and back to the book.
I thought the author did a very good job of sharing his father's story and that of the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. The B17 is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft that was developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Any one who is a fan of these types of books will enjoy this book. You don't have to have any knowledge of aviation or this time period as the author shares facts about history from the war, to the crew, his father, and the different positions that each crew member held. Yet, the author finds a nice balance between sharing historical facts and keeping it short without becoming dry. Also, the author shared his father's writing, so he had a voice as well in this book. It helped make me grow closer to the Snyders's. This is a fascinating read.

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