CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- On Feb. 8, 1944, in the heart of World War II, the U.S. B-17 flying fortress long-range bomber, nicknamed "Susan Ruth," crashed in Macquenoise near Chimay, Belgium. While two members were killed on impact and three others were captured and sent to prison camps, the pilot, copilot and navigator managed to evade capture thanks to the help of local people. Unfortunately, the copilot and navigator were caught by the Nazis and executed in April 1944. The pilot, Howard Snyder, spent seven months fighting with Belgian and French resistance units. He survived the war and later passed away in 2007.
On Feb. 11, Air Force Lt. Col. Craig Lindstrom, commander of the 424th Air Base Squadron, joined the members of the Duty of Memory association to pay tribute to the crew members. "They thought they were just doing their jobs and executing orders but to the local residents who witnessed the crash and had set all of their hopes in them, they were the liberators, those who would free hem from the Nazi occupation," said Lindstrom during his speech.
"These commemorations bind our nations and solidify the friendship between Belgians and Americans, a friendship that was born on the battlefield many decades ago," he said before he laid a wreath in front of the monument built in memory of the crew members.