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Our Last Mission:
In this remarkable tale of courage, historian Dawn Trimble Bunyak recounts the experiences of her uncle, Lawrence Pifer, a technical sergeant who survived fourteen months of internment as a prisoner of war in World War II Nazi Germany.
A radio operator and ball turret gunner on the American B-17 bomber Slightly Dangerous, Pifer was shot down during a raid on March 4, 1944. As he parachuted from the plummeting plane, Pifer witnessed the deaths of two of his fellow crewmembers. Captured by Nazi soldiers and taken to a series of German Stalag Luft camps, Pifer and other servicemen-mostly in their teens and twenties-endured torture, starvation, disease, and forced marches. When British forces liberated Pifer's group, he pushed his POW experiences deep into the recesses of his mind, not to recall them in detail for decades.
Years later, a POW group at a Veterans Administration hospital helped Pifer realize that he was ready to tell his story. After forty hours of interviews with Pifer, Dawn Trimble Bunyak retells the enthralling story of an average enlisted man's struggle to survive in the face of hopelessness, with only his strong faith and pride in country to sustain him.
In his foreword, historian Arnold Krammer shows how popular views of the prisoner-of-war experience have changed dramatically over time yet how rare are such first-person accounts as Pifer's. Enhanced by numerous photographs and maps and an appendix of prisoners' poetry, Our Last Mission is one of only a few oral histories that details the daily experiences of one of the 94,000 American POWs in Europe during World War II.