Family to Receive Remnants of WWII Bomber on Veteran’s Day
We received the following media release from DHL Express, about plans to present descendants of a B-17 pilot with a turret salvaged from the wreckage of his plane.
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DHL to Deliver Remnant of WWII Plane to War Hero’s Family on Veteran’s Day
Plantation, Fla., November 7, 2013: This Veteran’s Day, Diane Dimel of Nashville, TN will feel a little bit closer to her distinguished father, a pilot who crash-landed a B-17 in Europe during World War II. As a way to honor and remember his heroic, life saving actions, DHL Express will deliver a piece of the plane – a large, remnant from the turret – to Diane and her family, nearly 70 years after the bomber came down in a Belgian village.
On Nov. 10, 1944, a U.S. Army Air Force B-17 named “Wolfel Bear” piloted by Lieutenant James Dimel, was part of a 12-plane squadron set to bomb the German Luftwaffe’s Wiesbaden airfield. Swarmed by Nazi gunfire over the Belgian-German border, the severely-damaged plane was forced to abandon the formation. Dimel ordered those not wounded to bail out, after he made the difficult decision to crash land the plane as the only way to save his wounded. As they descended out of the clouds, they were confronted by the steeple of a village church and through skilled action, he steered the plane around the church and into a nearby meadow. Jim was hailed as a hero for his quick-thinking that saved his crew and kept the townspeople out of harm’s way.
The tracing of the aircraft piece took some sleuthing by way of Marianne Hubert, a school teacher in Belgium, and her friend Robert de Saint-Georges. In 1999, Robert showed Marianne an unidentified photo of the WWII plane that crashed nearby when he was 11-years-old. Robert also knew about parts from the plane that had been collected by local townspeople – as well as the turret remnant that had been sitting for years in a local chicken coop. Robert and Marianne then began to research the crew, interview villagers and gather documents.
Marianne started writing letters to the Historical Archive Center of Maxwell U.S. Air Force Base in Alabama and was able to track down the pilot, who was retired in Plantation, Florida. When she returned to Belgium with news of the discovery, the townspeople in Belgium invited Jim Dimel back to Europe in 2001. The town organized a warm welcome for him and his family to celebrate his heroic deeds. Ultimately, Robert obtained the turret and offered it to the Dimel family. Marianne and the Dimels then contacted DHL Express, whose European and U.S. management teams generously offered to provide the special international delivery and ship the turret at no charge to Diane Dimel’s home in Nashville, as a Veteran’s Day gift.
“Our family is eternally grateful to the turret donor, Robert de Saint-Georges and Marianne Hubert for coordinating this endeavor along with the thoughtful delivery by DHL Express and its shipping donation in honor of Veteran’s Day,” said Diane Dimel. “This is not only a treasured piece of history, but with my father gone, it is a symbol of his heroism and the Dimel family will cherish it for generations to come.”
Diane Dimel organized a special family reunion in Nashville, so all could be present when DHL Express delivers the historic aircraft piece on Veteran’s Day.
“We are pleased to help reunite the Dimel family with a piece of history that will help them remember and honor the incredible heroism of their family member on Veteran’s Day,” said Ian Clough, CEO of DHL Express U.S. “Like Jim Dimel, there are many men and women who served or continue to serve their country with pride.”