More compassion from World War II 

The following story was taken from In the cold skies over far northern Germany, planes were battling it out in freezing temperatures. On the ground, near Bremen, an accomplished pilot with 22 kills, Franz Stigler, was refueling his plane, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6, which was at risk of overheating because of a bullet in its radiator. Stigler was watching the air, and he saw a tattered U.S. bomber so beaten up it could barely fly.

The plane, piloted by Charles Brown of West Virginia, had sustained the damage to the aircraft’s nose, and with two engines disabled it was slowing down. Brown lost his position in the formation and had been left behind to endure enemy fire. Another engine went at that moment. Internal oxygen was depleting, and half the rudder was gone too. Electrical systems were failing. His weapons had jammed, he’d lost part of the nose and an elevator, and most of his crew were now injured. Brown himself suffered a wound in his right shoulder.

He had to endure the pain because the morphine on board had frozen and he could not radio for help as the radio had been destroyed.

Stigler took off from below and flew to Brown’s plane. The exterior damage to the aircraft allowed him to see inside and the crew was suffering. Stigler was a fighter pilot with integrity and compassion. As a young pilot, a commanding officer had told him, “You are fighter pilots first, last, always. If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.”

Stigler tried to direct them to a German airfield, hoping that they would land and surrender. Brown and his crew did not understand and flew on. He tried to guide them to neutral territory in Sweden, but again, they didn’t understand.

Stigler moved to a formation on Brown’s port side wing to protect him from further German fire. Brown told his crew to aim the dorsal turret gunner at Stigler to warn him off, but not to fire.

The brave and compassionate Stigler remained on the bomber’s wing all the way to the coast to get the bomber safely over open water. Now that the bomber was safe, Stigler looks into the bomber’s cabin, saluted Brown and his crew, and flew back into German airspace.

Brown was able to make it back to England where he reported the incident to his officers. He was told not to repeat the story. The officers seemed to want to prevent their men from having positive feelings about enemy pilots. Brown later said, “Someone decided you can’t be human and be flying in a German cockpit.”

Stigler kept his mouth shut too. His act of bravery and compassion would have put him at risk of execution.

Many years later, in 1986, Brown began a search for Stigler. He finally found him in 1990, living in Canada. The two formed a friendship that lasted until their deaths, both in 2008. This story is about showing kindness and compassion. Give your kindness away without expecting anything in return. At its core, compassion is about paying attention to the present moment with a loving attitude and taking action. The German fighter pilot allowed his heart to be greater than his fear for persecution for aiding the enemy. His compassion saved a life and would later form a bond of friendship.

Posted by [email protected] On 14 April, 2019 at 9:32 PM  

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