Image: via Kogo

It’s December 20, 1943 – all around, WWII is raging – and American Second Lieutenant Charles Brown is piloting his stricken four-engined Flying Fortress over Germany. Things are desperate indeed. A concerted attack by Nazi fighter planes has devastated Brown’s bomber, leaving just one engine fully operational. The odds of escaping further German attacks and limping back to base in England could therefore hardly be longer. And then a pursuing Luftwaffe pilot comes into view.

We’ll return a little later to Brown’s dire circumstances in the skies above Germany. But first, let’s find out a bit about Charles L. “Charlie” Brown’s life and his role in the theater of war. Brown was born in October 1922 in the state of West Virginia and brought up on a farm. He then joined the U.S. Army in October 1939, just a few days before his 17th birthday.

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