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Bill Getz

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bill Getz sits in front of a rendition of the crew-designed crest that graced the B-24 Liberator he piloted during his D-Day missions. The aircraft was named The Phantom Renegade and the French motto roughly translates to "The Spirit of Those We Love." (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Madelyn Brown)

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bill Getz sits in front of a rendition of the crew-designed crest that graced the B-24 Liberator he piloted during his D-Day missions. The aircraft was named The Phantom Renegade and the French motto roughly translates to "The Spirit of Those We Love." (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Madelyn Brown)

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Bill Getz was a senior in high school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. From that day forward, Getz knew his fate was forever changed. By age 19 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He piloted the B-24 during World War II while assigned to the 491st Bomb Group in England. The early morning of June 6, 1944, Getz and his crew began preparations for a mission. Getz took to the skies toward a German munitions depot in Coutances, France. Before reaching the target, the austere weather conditions made it impossible to drop their bombs accurately and they returned to base. Later that day, 25 aircraft took off for a second attempt. Only nine of those aircraft made it through the vision-crippling clouds. Getz led a lower element formation of three aircraft. A serendipitous break in the weather allowed for the formation to drop their bombs successfully. Getz flew 31 B-24 missions in 62 days during his time at the 491st Bomb Group. In his 20 years of military service, he flew 21 different types of aircraft before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Today, Getz devotes his time to educating high school students about military history and writing novels. He has published four novels and is currently writing his fifth.