Lawrence native Lionel Bourassa and five other American airmen died nearly seven decades ago when German anti-aircraft gunners shot their plane down over a forest near Munich.
But people in the village of Vaterstetten don’t want to forget about Tech. Sgt. Bourassa or the rest of the 10-man crew of the Yellow G — the B-24 Liberator — that was part of a mission to bomb the BMW factory in Munich on July 19, 1944.
It was five years ago that a historical group in the village dedicated a permanent war memorial at the crash site to the crew. The names of the six who were killed and the four who survived were engraved on the shiny aluminum monument.
Next month, the village will honor the Americans with a special program observing the 70th anniversary of the Yellow G’s last flight.
“This is not just a general remembrance of the crew, but a specific event designed to present specific information on the men from this crew, so those in attendance can learn more about the individuals,” said Jerry Whiting, an author and a historian from Walnut Creek, Calif. who has written several books about the fighting aircraft of World War II.
“Things like where they were from, what they looked like and family information,” said Whiting, who plans to fly to Germany next week to participate in the program.
Whiting’s book, “Don’t Let the Blue Star Turn Gold,” focuses on the airmen in the 485th Bomber Group who were shot down over occupied Europe. It includes a chapter on the bombing raid that ended in the village now known as Vaterstetten.
“In Sgt. Bourassa’s case, I intend to tell the audience about his sister, Claire Nicosia, the gratification it brought her a few years ago when she learned that Lionel and his crew had a monument built in their honor, and the happiness she felt to receive a small piece of his airplane from Germany,” Whiting said in a recent interview.