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On the Porch

Last week, I shared a photograph of First Lt. George H. “Sonny” Ehrreich of Marshall, who was killed in action on June 7, 1944. The photograph this week is another image of Sonny, and it is courtesy of his sister, Mary Lou Peterson, of Marshall. Mary Lou and her family have graciously shared information about Sonny along with photographs of him in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of his death.

George Hess “Sonny” Ehrreich was born to George Gustav and Mary Elizabeth (Hess) Ehrreich on January 18, 1922 in Pipestone. George Gustav served in the Army during World War I. At the time of World War II, George Gustav went to work on the Canadian Pipe Line. Sonny was the oldest of four children: Sonny, Albert LeRoy “Bud,” Mary Lou Peterson, and John Edward “Jack.” Sonny graduated from Marshall High School in 1939, and he enlisted in the Army Air Force in around March or April of 1942. Bud, two years younger than Sonny, served in the Navy Air Force. Sonny and Bud saw each other only once in California while they were both in the service.

Sonny had the honor of being a pilot in World War II. He was a co-pilot assigned to the 49th Troop Carrier Squadron and saw action in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Then his group was transferred to England in preparation for the assault on France. He and his partner 1st Lt. Edmond J. Gibala were among the leaders of the second wave of aircraft to drop paratroopers on D-Day. Their aircraft (a Douglas C-47 named “Stand By”) took a direct hit on the right wing but they made it back safely to their home base at RAF Folkingham. The next day, after very little sleep, they were given another plane to drop ammunition and supplies. Due to the bad weather on June 7, many aircraft turned around and headed back. At some point during their route through the English corridor, they too decided to abort the mission and land at a nearby airfield. They crashed on approach to RAF Edgehill, near Oxford. The entire crew of six perished.

To be continued next week…

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