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Wayne Gotke (Surviving Crew Member)
2nd Lieutenant Wayne Gotke was the navigator of Post's plane. At the urging of Robert Post's father he wrote the following account after he was released from a German prisoner of war camp:
Our ship was under constant fighter attack from the time we reached the Island of Texel until we were shot down. We had fought off the planes with very minor damage until we were almost to Oldenburg, then all hell broke loose. I spent most of my time with position reports trying to get short cuts filled into the flight to allow us to gain and catch the rest of the formation. However, I'm reasonably sure no one was injured up to this point, except Sgt. Welsh the belly gunner who had passed out from lack of oxygen and as far as I know never regained his senses. When we were almost to Oldenburg fighters hit us from all sides. Sgt. Vogt the engineer and top turret operator shot the first fighter down and I shot the next down however not until he had sent 20 mms. into the nose and cockpit. Sgt. Mifflin shot down the third from his waist gun position. At this point my left gun jammed and I know at least two planes made direct hits on nose and flight deck. Someone I'm sure was hurt on the flight deck and I was hit twice in the nose of the ship operating a jammed gun. Engines #3 and #4 had been hit and were on fire. I believe fire spread to the wing tank and caused the ship to explode.
I was working on my guns when all at once it seemed someone pushed me from behind and all went black. I woke up falling through space and pulled my rip cord and no results so I reached back and tore the back of my chute out. My last look at the altimeter showed 26,000 ft. and the Germans claim they saw my chute open at 5,000 ft. They picked me up after I had sat between two trees about 20 ft. in the air for about 25 minutes and took me to a first aid station for treatment of cuts around the head and 20 mm. wounds. It was here I saw Sgt. Mifflin. The copilot of the other ship shot down the same time as us said he saw Capt. Adams leather jacket and it appeared the man had been killed. The ship's loading list was removed by the Germans from the jacket. The Germans asked me about your son as they could not identify him from the loading list. I gave them no information whatsoever as my orders were to say nothing in hopes if men were at large their chances of getting home would be better. The Germans asked questions about Bowie and Hannan and from that I believe those two men could not be identified. They asked questions about Johnson, because they could not find any information on him. My belief is that your son was wearing his Mae West and perhaps through that lead you may get some information. I'm under the impression all bodies were not found and if found they could not identify them.
I regret this is all I can say which I have made clear in my own mind. Rest assured anything I feel in the future more clearly and of some help to you I will forward the information to you. We all felt that your son was doing something beyond his call of duty to fly with us and held the highest respect for him. We knew him as a very swell person and I regret his loss greatly. I can understand how you feel as boys on a mission are like brothers. I'm sorry I can't give you more information. I hope this information will help.

Wayne Gotke (second from the left) as a prisoner of war in Germany's Stalag Luft III. The POWs are all from the 44th Bomb Group: (from left to right) Bob Walker, Wayne Gotke, Bob McPhillamey, Bill Wockenfuss, Leo Frazier, John Mooney.
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Copyright 1996-2003, Jim Hamilton
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