William Heatherby Ichter, who was known as “Billy” to everyone who knew him,
was the second youngest of eleven children. Mr. Ichter, was born and raised in Ashley, Pennsylvania, a prosperous anthracite coal mining community in the North Eastern corner of the state. Billy attended Luzerne County, public schools, and in 1942 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Scranton, a Jesuit University located in Scranton, Pennsylvania .
Immediately after graduating from college, he volunteered for and served in the United States Air Corp. and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. After training in San Antonio, Texas, Billy served as a bombardier in a B-24 aircraft, No. 42-100085 stationed in Hethel, England which was part of the 389th Bomb Group, 564th Squadron.
Billy survived two crash landings, the first of which occurred near Hethel, England upon return from a bombing mission.
In the second crash, which occurred on February 20, 1944, Billy and William Kennedy, a navigator, were the sole survivors of their 8 man crew when their aircraft was shot down during a bombing mission over Brunswick, in central Germany. After being captured by German ground forces, he and Kennedy were transported to Kassel, Germany, near Frankfurt om Main, for interrogation. After the interrogation was completed, Billy and Kennedy were transported by boxcar to Stalag Luft 1, a prison camp which held over 8,000 airmen that was located in Barth, Germany, in the far North- East of the country. The boxcar was unheated, and the seven day trip, which was made in Winter, was extremely difficult. Billy spent fourteen months as a prisoner of war. The conditions within the camp were inhumane, with winter conditions extremely difficult, and rations were scarce, but the 9,000 airmen imprisoned in Stalag Luft 1 showed incredible discipline and fortitude.
After being liberated in May of 1945 by Russian forces, he returned to his hometown and attended Dickenson School of Law and Fordham University Law School. While attending Fordham he worked at the firm of Donovan, Leisure, a prominent Wall Street law practice that was founded by General “Wild Bill” Donovan, one of the founders of the C.I.A. After graduating from law school, Billy began a forty year career at Fairchild Camera, a manufacturer of high altitude precision camera equipment used by the U.S. government and private industry. He also was a substitute teacher in the Oyster Bay, New York school system for many years.
Billy and his wife, Angela "Nell" Ichter, treasured their relationship of 58 years, and they were inseparable. Billy and Nell loved gardening, dogs and children. They also traveled extensively and collected antiques as a hobby. For many years they resided in New York City, Huntington, Long Island, and relocated to Kingston, Pennsylvania after Billy’s retirement from Fairchild.
Billy passed away in Denver Colorado on April 10 2013, at the age of 96, after a short illness. He was buried with full military honors in the Holy Trinity Church Parish Cemetery, Bear Creek, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
Billy was preceded in death by his father Robert, and Mother Sarah, as well as brothers James, Jack, Joseph, John and Robert, and sisters Grace, Catherine, Irene, Jean and Elizabeth. Angela Ichter, Bill's beloved wife of 58 years, and who also grew up in Ashley, passed in 2007.
Mr. Ichter was a resident of the Veteran’s Administration Community Living Center in Denver, Colorado at the time of his passing. His family is thankful to the staff of the Veterans Administration Community Living Center and the Veterans Administration Medical Center of Denver, Colorado for the world class care and support that they provided to Billy. Billy was eternally grateful for that care, and the relationships that he was able to establish there.
Units served with
The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...
Shot down on 20 February 1944. The aircraft was last seen losing altitude and had a large hole in its left wing, when it exploded shortly after. 3 members of the crew were Killed in Action and 7 taken Prisoner of War.
Military site : airfield
Construction of Hethel airfield began in 1941, and was finished in late 1942. The number of hardstandings was increased from the planned 36 to 50 in 1942, in order to accommodate a full heavy bomb group. The 320th Bomb Group occupied the base for ten...
||Ashley, Pennsylvania, USA
||16 October 1925
|Prisoner of War (POW)
||20 February 1944 – 1 May 1945