Introduction

The entries linked to the Table of Contents present photos, original documents, and supplemental materials. They include comments on sources, and any problems I encountered while working on that portion of the story. There are a few Word files with extended narratives on related topics; you can read them or not, depending on your interests.
The first linked file lists the Record Groups and files at the National Archives that I reviewed.

If you have questions or comments about a particular chapter, or if you are interested in digging deeper into one of the topics covered in the book, feel free to reach me through the Contact page on this website.
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The advantage I had in writing this book was that I knew many of the basics from snippets and stories told by (or pried from) my father over decades. But the conversations were never lengthy, and often lacking in context. So I had to integrate what I heard from him with what was available in the literature, the stories of other airmen, and records in the official archives. Several factors combined to make this more difficult than you might expect. The first was simply the passage of time. The entire topic was classified Top Secret for 40 years, and over that period many items of potential interest went walkabout.  Again and again I would access a seemingly relevant file at the National Archives, only to find that it was empty, or that it contained a slip of paper indicating that it had been withdrawn for security reasons between 1945-1949. The second factor, related to the first, is that most of the men involved had died before I started this project, and most of what had been published previously was based on their recollections 50 or more years afterward by men aged 70-90+.
 
I felt it essential to try and work from the contemporaneous documents and depositions whenever possible. A third factor whose importance can only be imagined, was a disastrous fire that occurred in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis on 12 July 1973.  The fire destroyed 16-18 million personnel records, including those of most WWII veterans, my father included.  Only copies of specific documents that were held at other government agencies survived. For example, Fred's medical records were held separately by the VA, and the Army had copies of his Gunnery and Mechanics certifications and his separation papers. Prior to 1973, Fred had been denied access to the records of his overseas deployment and his time as a POW. When related records were finally declassified a decade later, there was little left to access. In response to his FOIA, Fred was only ever able to access (1) the record of funds confiscated by the SS on arrival in Buchenwald, and (2) the MIS-X report on the Buchenwald airmen, which mentioned him by name.