When I stumbled across this story this week, my first thought was that I must have misunderstood what I heard.  But when I Googled it to find out, it is one of the most amazing WW II survival stories I have ever heard.

Alan Eugene Magee was born Jan. 13, 1919.  He passed away on Dec. 20, 2003.  Magee joined the Air Force immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack.  He was assigned as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Bomber, commonly known as the Flying Fortress. 

The ball turret on the bottom of the B-17 is nicknamed “snap, crackle, pop”.  This is where Mr. Magee found himself on Jan. 3, 1943.  He was on a daytime bombing raid over St. Nazaire, France. This was Magee’s seventh mission. 

Magee’s turret became dysfunctional after receiving heavy anti-aircraft fire.  He left the turret to find his parachute rendered useless. As an onslaught of anti-aircraft fire ripped most of the right wing off the aircraft, the Flying Fortress began a terrifying, deadly spin.  Magee was moving from the bomb bay to the radio room, when he blacked out due to a lack of oxygen.

He was miraculously thrown clear from the aircraft and fell over 22,000 feet.  He crashed through the glass roof of a railroad station.  The glass roof slowed Magee’s descent enough to where he actually survived the incredible fall. 

Magee was taken as a prisoner of war.  In addition to his several broken bones, severe damage to his nose and eye, lung and kidney damage, and a nearly severed right arm, from the damage of the fall, he also had 28 shrapnel wounds.

In 1945 Magee was liberated.  He received the Air Medal, and a Purple Heart.  On Jan. 3, 1993, the people of St. Nazaire erected a memorial to Mr. Magee and his crew. 

I find this story almost impossible to believe.  The average estimate of speed that Magee was falling at, when he hit that glass roof, was somewhere around 120 MPH.  Can you even begin to imagine that?

What a fall.

God bless you all -- RHM