By Tom Morrow
One of the more interesting stories I wrote during my 40-plus years in wordsmithing was about the drama that played out in the skies of Europe in 1945, between two fighter pilots.
Oberleutnant Walter Schuck of the German Luftwaffe and 1st Lt. Joe Peterburs of the U.S. Army Air Corps clashed in a dogfight over Germany in the waning days of World War II. The fact Peterburs, flyng a P-51 Mustang, won the battle isn’t as significant as the fact that Schuck was flying the first operational jet aircraft in history – the Messerschmitt 262. The jet was at least 100 mph faster, but the P-51 was more maneuverable.
Both pilots were “aces,” meaning they had each shot down five or more enemy aircraft. And, on that April 10th day of 1945, only one would emerge the winner.
Schuck had just shot down an American B-17 on its way back to England from a bombing run, when Peterburs spotted Schuck. Coming in from behind the German, the young American shot a barrage of 50 mm cannon fire and forced Schuck to bail out. It was one of the few times a piston aircraft (at the time, the P-51 was the fastest) was able to down the new jets of the Luftwaffe.
As the fighting faded into the background after the War, Germany and the United States gradually formed various veteran organizations. Somehow, Schuck and Petersbur found each other. Not only did they shake hands, the two became close friends. Each year they would visit one another’s home. Schuck coming to California and Petersbur to Germany. For years, the pair made tours across each nation visiting veteran groups, giving talks about their war experiences. They were annual guests at Oceanside’s Old Bold Pilots organization.
Schuck and Peterbur agreed the ME-262 was the superior aircraft, but it became available to late in the war to make a difference.
“We didn’t have enough fuel to put up any sort of fight,” Schuck told me. “Each time we went up, we had less than 10 minutes flying time.”
It was a case of too little to late, which was just fine for the two old warriors. I’ve lost track of both, but if still alive they’re in their nineties. Theirs is but one of the many stories of enemies-turning-friends from World War II.
SCAG SEZ: Whew, just learned Easter Sunday is also April Fool’s Day this year. How did the Pope allow that to happen??? – Cecil Scaglione
GROANER – The late Neal Mars of Oceanside is responsible for the following:
A man gets into a cab, opens a bag and proceeds to stuff his ears with whipped cream and to spread strawberries in his hair. The cab driver watches with amazement before asking, “Where would you like to go?”
“You’ll have to speak up,” replies the man. “I’m a trifle, hard of hearing.”
Sez Me: I’ll be at the special “Author’s Night” from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Thursday, Jan. 18, Sunset Market in downtown Oceanside. Drop by and say “hello.” I’ll even sell you one of my latest books.
Humorous or human-interest stories or notes for my osidenews.com column can be forwarded via e-mail to me at: email@example.com