Shot Down is about author Steve Snyder’s father, Howard Snyder, the ten man crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth, and the unique experiences of each man after their plane was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgium border on February 8, 1944. Some men died. Some were captured and became prisoners of war. Some evaded the Germans for awhile but were betrayed, captured, and shot. Some men evaded capture and were missing in action for seven months. The stories are all different and are all remarkable.
Through personal letters, oral and written accounts, military records, and interviews – all from people who took part of the events that happened 70 years ago, the stories of the crewmen come alive. Further enhancing their stories are more than 200 time period photographs of the people who were involved and the places where the events took place.
Even before the dramatic battle in the air and the subsequent harrowing events on the ground, the story is informative, insightful, and captivating. Prior to the fateful event on February 8, the book covers the men’s training, their journey to England, life while stationed there, and numerous combat missions. Everything is centered around the 306th Bomb Group stationed at Thurleigh, England of which the crew of the Susan Ruth was a part.
To add background and context, many historical facts about the war are entwined throughout the book so that the reader has a feel for and understanding of what was occurring on a broader scale. Thus, it is a fascinating account about brave individuals, featuring pilot Howard Snyder, set within the compelling events of the war in Europe. You will be given an insider’s seat to the drama surrounding a remarkable group of young airmen and the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help them.
In 1989, a memorial to the crew of the Susan Ruth was dedicated at Macquenoise, Belgium and every year celebrations are held to honor and remember the men who are now all gone but not forgotten. It’s Our Duty To Remember.