Right on time for the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune – the World War II Allied forces D-Day invasion of Normandy – the Man of Mastery podcast has the distinct pleasure of speaking with author Steve Snyder. Steve dedicated years of research to compile his book Shot Down about the harrowing day in 1944 when his father’s B-17 bomber was shot down over the French/Belgium border. Pilot Howard Snyder and the rest of the 10 man Susan Ruth crew were returning from a mission to bomb Frankfurt, Germany. The bomber fell behind the formation and was attacked and fatally damaged by two German fighter planes.
Howard and seven other surviving crew members parachuted out of the flaming aircraft, but successfully bailing out was just the beginning of an incredible survival tale. Crew members would have to escape and evade over many months in German-occupied Belgium and France, relying upon and partnering with local resistance organizations, at times coming literally within reach of the Nazi soldiers searching to capture or kill the Allied airmen.
“There is no other event in history that affected more people than World War II. The brave young men who fought and died for freedom are without a doubt the greatest generation.”
– Steve Synder
This nonfiction, historical documentary is taken from personal letters, declassified military records, interviews and other accounts directly from the actual people involved. Steve recounts the amazing stories of each crew member involved and particularly the saga of his father. Howard Snyder evaded capture and was missing in action for seven months.
“Their sacrifice must never be forgotten. They saved the world from tyranny. It is our duty to remember.”
– Steve Synder
Steve was born in Pasadena, California and studied Economics at UCLA. After graduating, Steve settled in Seal Beach, California where he still lives today with his wife, Glenda and where they raised three sons, Doug, Devin, and Clayton.
After retiring in 2009, Steve began a quest to know everything possible about the World War II experiences of his father, pilot Howard Snyder, and his crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth which was named after Steve’s oldest sister. Gradually, the research became Steve’s passion and resulted in this book. He belongs to numerous World War II associations and is on the Board of Directors of the 306th Bomb Group Association.
Steve and Glenda spend time in Sedona, Arizona, are avid gardeners, and enjoy traveling – having been to numerous countries in Europe, the Caribbean, and Pan-Asia. Some of Steve’s other interests are reading, taking long walks while in Seal Beach, hiking with Glenda while in Sedona, and being an avid UCLA sports fan.
- Howard Snyder’s journey from husband and father to pilot of the B-17 named after his daughter
- Arms race with German and how the American military industrial complex came through
- Extreme conditions faced by the crews of high altitude bombers in WWII
- The missions of American daytime precision bombing and British nighttime carpet bombing
- Incredible dangers and staggering loss statistics of bomber crews and other airmen
- Unique historical perspective from the German fighter pilot who shot down the Susan Ruth
- Downed airmen living in hiding and on the run in German-occupied France and Belgium
- Coming within arm’s reach of the German soldiers hunting them
- Mindset and focus on their Why that aided survival
- Belgians assisting downed Americans and their eternal gratitude to the Allied forces
- Impacts of the war that changed America and the world forever
- Lessons to learn and apply today from the Greatest Generation
- Our duty to preserve, honor, and remember
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RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Shot Down – The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth
- Audible version of Shot Down
- Allied Flight Gear in WWII
- 40th Bombardment Wing – 306th Bomb Group
- B-17 G Diagram
- B-17 Flying Fortress Queen of the Skies
- BBC History World War Two
- World War 2 POW Archive
- Belgian Escape Lien Research and Remembrance
- Belgian Resistance Historic Overview
- The Escape Artists – A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War
B-17 Susan Ruth Crew Memorial at Macquenoise, Belgium
Howard Snyder, Ginette Gadenne and other Helpers
Hans Berger, 2014
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