Frank Dominic Furiga

Military
Lieutenant Frank D Furiga,a navigator of the 384th Bomb Group.

Object Number - FRE 9768 - Lieutenant Frank (NMI) Furiga, a navigator of the 384th Bomb Group.

Became POW on 30 November 1944 when, because of miscommunication, he bailed out over enemy territory.
Prisoner Of War
POW Camp: Stalag 9C Bad Sulza Saxe-Weimar 51-11
MACR 11111

Frank Furiga from Pittsburgh, enlisted in 1943 and was sent to train as a bombardier at a gunnery school in Arizona flying in B-17s. Later sent to England he was stationed at Grafton Underwood and flew 10 missions as a bombardier before being trained to fly as a navigator. On his next missions he flew as a ‘coordinator’, in the back of the aircraft, checking the aircraft that were hit and reporting back. His 25th and last mission was as a navigator and his story was recorded in the “Yanks Supplement” of the Evening Telegraph in 1992.

“A former airman who served at Grafton Underwood has told of his capture by the Germans after parachuting from his blazing bomber behind enemy lines.
The drama unfurled on Frank Furiga’s 25th mission with the 547th squadron as the B-17 Fightin’ Hebe was hit by flak while bombing oil refineries near Zeitz on November 30th, 1944. Frank, just 19 years old, decided to eject with three fellow crewmen when they lost radio contact with the pilot, who had passed out from lack of oxygen after a fire in supply bottles.
“I leaned out of the slipstream and was sucked out with a loud whoosh,” he recalled, “Because of the heavy flak, I dropped to 18,000 feet before I pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened and as I started to get concerned, I felt a huge pain in my groin and a sudden snap of my whole body and I looked up into the beautiful white canopy of my opened parachute. I had slight difficulty breathing but my biggest problem was the fear of the unknown. I still had the officer’s hat plus the GI shoes in my left hand.”
The young bombardier broke his left leg on landing and after being interrogated by the Germans at Frankfurt, spent the rest of the war in a succession of hospitals.
Incredibly the stricken plane made it home after the ball turret gunner managed to revive the pilot, who had switched to autopilot before passing out.

“Today I just shake my head in utter wonder that at that tender age, I was galloping up and down the streets of London without a worry in my youthful head and had the responsibility of being a combat flying officer!””

Frank continued with his aviation interests after the war and gave many speeches to schools and other groups about his experiences as a POW. He also became an officer in the “Barbed Wire Buckeyes POW” local group. During one of his recorded interviews he related the following about his experiences:

“There was a mission came up and they were short on navigators, and they said to me, "You know, we got this plane here. We need a navigator for it. You're a qualified navigator, so you got to go." And so I had to go. So that's the day we parachuted out. I mean, we were going down a bomb run and we started to get shot up, you know. There were holes in the plane and all. And then all of a sudden there was a fire, and we hadn't got to the target yet, in the back, and we hadn't dropped the bombs yet, which is a very hazardous time to have a fire.

So, anyway, what happened was I'm up in the nose, and I looked back and I see the co-pilot, he puts on the parachute chest pack, boom, he goes out of the hatch. And right behind him is the next guy. So then, you know, I come out into that area there underneath the pilot and co-pilot. The co-pilot is gone. And here I am, I was the navigator. And then one of the other guys, the top turret gunner is gone. He went out, too. And the ball turret gunner goes out. So I said, "The pilot knew something that I don't know yet, but it must be bad if these guys are going." So then I parachuted out. And I prayed hard. I put my hands on my rip cord and I went right out of the front hatch. And I tumbled and turned. We were at high altitude and I said, "Don't open it right away."
So then when I sensed that I was probably low enough I pulled the cord. Nothing happened. And all of a sudden I had an intense pain in my groin. And I look up and there was this big white umbrella above me. Man, what a relief. And I looked down below at the German landscape and all I can see is railroad trains and boats on the river, but I don't see any traffic. But I got out at 30,000 feet. So that high you don't really see that, see.

So as I got lower, I started seeing the motor traffic, trains. And, boy, I don't know what kind of reception I'm going to have. And I had in my pocket here, I always carried with me, I had a Catholic prayer book and it had a brass cover on it. I carried it here because it protects my heart, you know. So I had those things. I had my identification things in my wallet and all. And I'm coming down lower and I see I'm headed for a big factory. And I see red circles. People are watching me. They're watching me.

And I see across a field a guy is running with a gun pointed at my head, and he's running like a crazy man, way far away. He's running across the field. He's got the gun pointed at me. So when I got to that -- in front of that factory, I hit the ground. And I had -- usually I wore shoes inside my boots, but I had the shoes attached to my parachute harness and that day I hadn't put my shoes on. So when I landed, I broke my leg immediately. The pain went up, right up to my head. And I said, "Oh, God damn. What I need now is a broken leg." So they were all on top of me, "Haben die pistole? Haben die -- where is the pistol?" and all this other stuff.”

Frank spent most of his time as a POW in hospital where he also contracted diphtheria. Liberated at the end of the war he flew back to England, then to hospital in Scotland and finally back to USA.

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

The insignia of the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 36743988
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: MOS 757 - Radio Operator / Mechanic / Gunner, AAF
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 16042068
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 35045500 / O-765622
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 17074027 / O-760823
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group
  • Service Numbers: 38370030
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Busy buzzard
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron

Missions

  • Date: 30 November 1944

Places

Events

Event Location Date Description

Other

POW

Germany 30 November 1944 Prisoner of War

Died

17 January 2014

Enlisted

Revisions

Date11 Jul 2020 14:08:41
Contributorbombercommand
ChangesChanges to person associations
Date3 Jul 2020 19:07:18
ContributorHotelie1970
ChangesChanges to middlename and awards
Sources

General Order 316 from Headquarters 1st Bombardment Division, Office of the Commanding General, by Command of Major General Williams, dated 9 September 1944.

Date2 Feb 2016 13:52:21
ContributorAnne Hughes
ChangesChanges to biography
Sources

Veterans' History Project Website

Date2 Feb 2016 13:49:32
ContributorAnne Hughes
ChangesChanges to biography and events
Sources

Daily Telegraph "Yanks Supplement" 1992 compiled by Tony Smith; Veteran's History Project Website; Cleveland.com obituaries

Date14 Feb 2015 15:42:33
Contributorbombercommand
ChangesChanges to aircraft associations
Sources

384thbombgroup.com

Date9 Feb 2015 00:33:08
Contributorbombercommand
ChangesChanges to service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, person associations, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

384thbombgroup.com

Date27 Sep 2014 18:09:53
ContributorAAM
ChangesAAM ingest

Frank Dominic Furiga: Gallery (2 items)