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The Final Mission
A Boy, a Pilot, and a World at War
Elizabeth Hoban and Lt. Col. Henry Supchak

$14.95 Paperback
$24.95 Hardback

  • 288 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.5
  • 25 b/w illus., maps
  • American History/World War II

About this Book

“A remarkable story of sacrifice, honor, and life-long redemption that provides a rare glimpse into the true drama of the human experience, as detailed in a chance encounter between a downed military aviator and a young boy during World War II. The respective courses of their lives finds them drawn back to the pivotal moment when their destinies crossed in the shadow of the Swiss Alps. A timeless and poignantly satisfying read.”—Lt. Col. Christopher Gruber, Western Region Medical Command, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran

 

 

In July 1944, Lt. Henry Supchak was flying his second-to-last mission over Germany when his B-17 bomber, Priority Gal, was hit by antiaircraft fire, disabling two engines and wounding him in the thigh. He attempted to reach neutral Switzerland, but was forced instead to order his eight crewmen to bail out over Austria. As Supchak prepared to abandon his aircraft he saw that it was on a collision course with an Alpine village. He instinctively got back into his seat, adjusted the controls, and barely escaped before the plane exploded at the base of a mountain. He parachuted into a pasture where a shepherd boy and his aunt stared in disbelief at this “man who fell from the sky.” Almost immediately, German infantry surrounded the pilot and took him away to solitary confinement. Although slightly burned by the exploding aircraft, the boy managed to find out where the wounded pilot was being held and snuck food and water to him before Supchak and his crew were taken away to a notorious prison camp for the rest of the war.

Liberated by Patton’s Third Army in April 1945, Supchak remained in the air force after World War II and even advised Gregory Peck during the filming of Twelve O’Clock High. But he carried deep scars from his war experience. Plagued by flashbacks, Supchak attempted to find closure. Opening up to his family and others about his aircombat missions and internment failed to rid him of the nagging dreams as he had hoped. But an inspired quest to find his former crew members before they all passed away put the pilot on a path of peace. A world away, an Austrian entrepreneur was searching for Supchak, the enemy pilot he had seen fall from the sky as a boy and whom he had never forgotten. Despite incredible odds, the pilot and the boy were able to meet again at the spot where Priority Gal had gone down, in a magical, miraculous reunion of closure. Beautifully written with honesty and emotion, The Final Mission: A Boy, a Pilot, and a World at War is a gripping and uplifting story of forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing from the devastation of war.

ELIZABETH HOBAN, daughter of Henry Supchak, is a writer and medical professional who teaches at a college in northern New Jersey.

HENRY SUPCHAK, born in 1916, was discharged from the U.S. Air Force with honors, including six Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross, and retired as an engineer with the Ford Motor Company. He lives in northwestern New Jersey.

 

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