First Lt. Edward V. Munge, Pilot
322nd Bombardment Group
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Edward V. Munge
Ed piloting the B26 on take off
The story below is a recommendation by Colonel Nye, Commanding Officer of the 322 Bombardment Group, to award my Dad the Distinguished Flying Cross. The following is Colonel Nye's recommendation.
To: Commanding General
On June 18, 1944 early in the morning, the 322 Bomb Group took off for the outskirts of Paris to bomb a railway. It was full of German equipment headed for Normandy. First Lt. Edward V. Munge was flying in the #36 position. Everything was going fine until he began his bomb run. Then German 88's opened up on him. Just as he dropped his bombs, all hell broke loose. The right side of his aircraft was hit by heavy flak, and the right engine was on fire. He immediately feathered his right engine. With all the power in left engine the plane peeled off to the left. He also noticed his aileron controls were cut. He hit the panic button because the radio was knocked out. He ordered his crew to bail out.
Lt. Munge tried to slide his seat back so he could bail out. The flak had tore up the rails. He could not slide the seat back. He was trapped. He couldn't get out no matter how hard he tried. He couldn't go out the top because he had on a backpack and wouldn't fit. He was going almost straight down when he decided he had to stay with the plane and try to straighten it out. He cut the power on the left engine with only his wing trim tabs and rudder and elevators to work with. He leveled the plane off at 500 feet. He looked over at his right engine and saw the that the fire was out and saw a gaping hole in the right wing where the gas tank was. He breathed a sigh of relief. That was the only thing that kept the plane from blowing up.
He put the power back on the left engine and looked around to see if there were any German fighters around. He saw two specs in the distance and thought they might be Germans, but they were our own P47's. They pulled up along side of him and banked their wings in a friendly gesture. This was Lt. Munge's 57th mission, so he knew his way around that area.
He set course for the Channel, The plane was barely flyable, and he was having a hard time keeping it under control. He tried his best to get it down as soon as possible. He was still in German territory. He could see the port town of La Harve which was still under German control so he stayed away from La Harve. He made a circle out into the English Channel and came back to the Normandy Beach area. There was a little airstrip on the beach so he just laid it in. He knew he didn't have much gas left in the left tank so he had to get it down. His landing gear wouldn't come down. He figured he was better off without them. The airstrip belonged to the English. They were hauling supplies. He slid off the end of runway and unhooked his parachute and went out the top. Then he ran like hell in case the plane blew up.
It was an English airfield which had just been completed a few miles inland from the beaches. The English soldiers went to the airplane looking for someone. He was already out. One of the soldiers counted 165 holes in the plane. He reported to the English Commander to try to get a ride back to England. The Commander said he didn't have anything. He told Lt. Munge there was a small American airstrip up the road about 10 or 15 miles toward Caen and maybe they would have a plane going back to England.
The next morning he ate breakfast English style and went and checked out his airplane. It was really tore up. The right engine was almost gone. One of the English soldiers told him the best place to catch an American jeep was on a road about a half mile away. So he walked over there and waited about an hour before an American jeep came by. He flagged him down and he said he was a short distance to the airstrip. Lt. Munge asked him if he could have a ride to the airstrip. On the trip to the airstrip, they could hear gun fire at Caen. They knew the Germans were close by. They finally came to an old barn, the place they were looking for. A couple of hours later, an American plane landed. Lt. Munge asked if it was going back to London. The pilot told him it was and offered him a ride. It was nearly dark when they landed in London.
The next morning he caught a transport back to base. When he walked into Headquarters, I was shocked to see him. I told Lt. Munge we were preparing to list him as Missing In Action. He told me the entire story.
Lt. Munge also hurt his back during that mission, but he didn't report it because he wanted to continue flying. He finished with 65 missions, flying his last one on July 24, 1944. He was then reassigned as a test pilot at Army Maintenance in Oxford, England.
As his Commanding Officer, I would like to recommend Lt. Munge for the Distinguished Flying Cross because of the way he handled his battle-damaged aircraft and completion of 65 missions.