All four of the survivors have died. But as part of his research, Whiting has interviewed relatives of several members of the flight crew. Recently, he tracked down the daughter of Clement Hurley, one of the airmen on the plane who was killed. She and several of her family members plan to accompany Whiting.
“The mayor of Vaterstetten, Georg Reitsberger — who commissioned the monument — is having the family as special guests at the Maypole celebration on May 1st,” Whiting said.
“On May 2, we will start in the afternoon by going to the crash site and to the monument. I’m not sure if there will be an official ceremony at the monument, but it wouldn’t surprise me, because they’ve asked me to say a few words there,” he said.
Whiting is friends of husband and wife artists Heike Rose and Bernd W. Schmidt-Pfeil, who created the eight-foot-tall monument to the crew of the Yellow G, which was one of 36 planes from the 485th Bomber Group that began the mission that fateful day in July of 1944.
“We are not sure if all people in the village see these Americans as heroes, because a lot of people lost relatives in World War II,” Rose and Schmidt-Pfeil said in an e-mail to The Eagle-Tribune four years ago.
“But the airmen are really heroes because they helped to liberate Germany from the Nazi regime,” they wrote.
So, it was the wish of the people of Vaterstetten to build a permanent memorial at the crash site of Yellow G, which had its left wing torn off by a burst of flak from German anti-aircraft gunners shortly before noon on July 19, 1944.
Now the village residents want to get to know more about the American flight crew who they’ve been honoring.