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  • Writer's pictureDon Milne

Help tell the stories of the real "Masters of the Air" heroes

In his excellent book “Masters of the Air”, Donald L Miller tells the story of the US Army Air Forces daylight strategic bombing campaign against Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, primarily centered on the operations of the US 8th Air Force.

At its height, the Mighty Eighth consisted of forty heavy bombardment groups, fifteen fighter groups, and four specialized support groups, all based throughout southern England. By the war’s end, a total of 350,000 airmen took part in the 8th Air Force’s operations. Of these, 26,000 were killed in combat or accidents, a mortality rate of 7.4%, which was higher than every other branch of the American military. More 8th Air Force airmen lost their lives during the war than the entire United States Marine Corps.

The upcoming AppleTV+ miniseries adaptation of “Masters of the Air”, from the same team that produced “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”, focuses on the personnel and exploits of one of the 8th's bomb groups, the 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy), which gained the reputation as the “Bloody Hundredth” due to the heavy losses it suffered. The group, which flew B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, flew its first combat mission on 25 June 1943 and its last on 20 April 1945. During those 22 months it completed 306 combat missions with the tragic loss of 803 airmen to combat and accidents. On one particularly harrowing mission, the 10 October 1943 mission to bomb the German city of Münster, twelve of the group’s thirteen bombers failed to return, with 36 airmen killed in action and another 85 captured.

In order to capitalize on the interest likely to accompany the “Masters of the Air” miniseries to hopefully attract additional volunteers for Stories Behind the Stars, a mini-project is underway to write the stories of all 803 fallen from the Bloody Hundredth. As of October 2023, over 500 stories have been written and shared via the project’s Facebook page, which has over 1,300 followers. If you are interested in helping to write stories of the 100th Bomb Group fallen, please contact Bob Fuerst at

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