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The Mission: February 26, 1943
The first and last official mission of The Writing 69th occurred on February 26, 1943. On that day, American B-24s and B-17s were dispatched to bomb the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory in Bremen, Germany. Bremen was overcast so the planes bombed the secondary target, the submarine pens at Wilhelmshaven.
Each journalist was assigned to a different plane. Of the eight journalists, six took part in the mission: Bigart, Cronkite, Hill, Post, Rooney, and Wade. Of the six, only five returned. Near Oldenburg Germany, Post's plane was attacked by German fighters. The plane exploded in mid air. Miraculously, two of the crew members survived. Eight others and Post died. The other journalists' planes returned safely although Rooney's was damaged by flak.
Post's death effectively put an end to The Writing 69th. Others did fly afterwards, including Manning and Scott, who both missed the Wilhelmshaven raid. Homer Bigart later claimed that he owed his life to Post because Post's death ensured that journalists wouldn't make a regular job of flying on bombing missions.
The mission is remarkable for the number of first-hand accounts that were written at the time. These include articles about the training, the mission, and its aftermath. Most remarkably, the German pilot who shot down Post's plane wrote about the experience in a book he published after the war. A surviving crew member from Post's plane also wrote an account.

This photo, taken weeks before the actual mission, shows (from left to right) Gladwin Hill, William Wade, Robert Post, Walter Cronkite, Homer Bigart, and Paul Manning. Andy Rooney and Denton Scott, the military journalists in the group, were not present for this photo. (Wide World Photos)

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