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Dec 8, 2020

John Sweren of Mesa, Arizona, was a tail gunner on a B-26 in World War II, and a former prisoner of war. In 2005, he attended a ceremony in the Normandy village of Fierville-Bray for the dedication of a memorial to Hitch Hiker, his plane, which was shot down over the village with the loss of three of its crew members while three survived.

John's story is a roller coaster of emotions. His memories are both unique -- as every flier had a different set of experiences and connections with family and friends -- and universal in the themes that run through his story: the loss of friends, the respite of alcohol, the camaraderie, the cruelty of captivity, the moments of humor in the darkest of times.

Special thanks to French historian Christian Levaufre, John's daughter Julie Denton, and Brett (Dallas) Schomacher for helping to bring John's amazing story to light.

Hitch Hiker's crew

John tells his story at the memorial dedication

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