2013-01-11 / Top Stories

Sandy Evacuation Leads To A Rare WW II Find

By Guy Nevirs

On November 1, 2012, I was forced to have my 86 year-old mother with Alzheimer’s evacuated from her apartment in Surfside.

With no heat, electricity, food, water, or toilet use, it was imperative to get her out of Rockaway and into a nursing facility. To be brief, she is safe and sound and in a nice facility in Huntington. She will not be returning. What followed is an interesting story.

I spent the months of November and December cleaning out Claire’s apartment. With most of the items sold or given away, I went through all her books before keeping some and giving some away. It was Wednesday, December 28th, 2012.

In one book I found a letter.

It was dated December 28th, 1942. It was from my uncle, Michael LaMedica, Claire’s oldest brother. 70 years to the day! Spooky....

You see, Michael was killed in action on Feb 4th, 1943, just weeks after he wrote that letter. Michael joined the Canadian Air Force at the breakout of the war. He was then transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he remained until the spring of 1942, when he was transferred to the United States Air Force (USAF).

The letter talked about his transfer to USAF and how he spent Christmas with the 70th Welsh Infantry.

He also wrote about looking forward to coming home and getting married and living a normal life.

He was a gunner in the 323rd Bomber Squad. We never knew specific details of his death, only that his B-17 was shot down; he was injured, and died in a local German-controlled hospital in the Netherlands. He is buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Margarten. But the story continues...

I posted his letter on Facebook and started to receive detailed information about his crew and the ill-fated mission on February 4th, 1943. The 323’s plane was the “Texas Bronco” piloted by Lt. Eugene B. Ellis.

It was the first B-17 that crashed in Holland during the war.

I then received a link to Ina- Schroders-Zeeders, a freelance Dutch writer who wrote a blog about the Texas Bronco’s last mission. It crash landed on her island home, Terschelling, in Northern Holland. It was part of a group of 86 bomber aircrafts on a daylight raid in Germany. It was damaged and attacked by German Messerschmidts. Lt. Ellis performed an emergency landing on the beach of Terschelling.

Michael was severely wounded and actually did die in a hospital in Leeuwarden. I have conversed with Ina on Facebook and plan to visit in the near future. My family and Michael’s surviving siblings were astonished by this new information.... 70 years later.

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