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Francis José Dietzler


Shot down by German fighters during a mission over Merseberg, on 2 November 1944, it was his 30th Mission. The aircraft caught fire and he bailed out with a pierced lung and broken arm. He was captured near Kothen and taken to the hospital there to be treated for his wounds. He feared that the Germans would choose to kill him, but he was instead treated for 4 months and taken to a Prisoner of War Camp. He remained there until liberation on 29 April 1945.

Dietzler chose not to follow a military career after the end of the war, reflecting on his service and the ordeal of facing death on a daily basis, never being sure he would return safely from a mission. Six years later, in 1951 he chose to leave his girlfirend and become a Trappist Monk. He has served in confinement since. In 1977 he moved to Brazil. He now works in the kitchens at the monastery and gives Church history classes and spiritual care to visitors and students. He sees his faith as penance, and seeks forgivness for the bombing missions he flew which killed innocent Germans.

Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed on 11/2/44 at Nichaln in B-17 'Winged Victory' #4297563


Units served with

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 323rd Bomb Squadron


  • 42-97563

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 23/12/43; Dalhart 16/1/44; Kearney 22/2/44; Grenier 24/2/44; Assigned 457BG Glatton 13/3/44; so christened at Burtonwood, UK; transferred 323BS/91BG [OR-U] Bassingbourn 16/3/44; mission 15/8/44 with ? , Waist gunner: Luther Carico ...


  • 698

    2 November 1944

Associated Place

  • Bassingbourn

    Military site : airfield
    Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents ( , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...


Event Location Date
Born Bywood, Pennsylvania, USA 10 May 1923
Prisoner of War (POW) Köthen, Germany 2 November 1944

Captured at around 12:50, near the Junkers Works near Kothen, and taken to the hospital.

Liberated Germany 29 April 1945
Became a Trappist Monk Campo do Tenente, Paraná, Brazil 1951

Father Francisco chose to become a monk in 1951, he moved to Parana, Brazil in 1977, where he still resides age 91


Date Contributor Update
29 April 2015 11:43:59 Emily Changes to biography

MACR 10147

Article on Trappist Monks in Brazil by Jose Maria Mayrink for Estadao 4 April 2015.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:09:47 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 10147 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database