The latest WWII crash investigation in the KMC is underway in March 2011 after a
request from a German family.  Uwe Benkel of the Flugzeugabstuerze Arbeitsgruppe was
contacted by the niece of a crewman on the Junker 88, shot down about 2 miles SW of
Zweibruecken.  The crewmembers are buried in a small cemetery adjacent to the crash,
where plane debris has already been located.  A family visit to the gravesite will take
place in May. Photos of the crew are pending and will be posted
A Junker 88 Crash Near Zweibruecken
After a visit back home in Hershey
Pennsylvania, Cpt Ginder
declined a "War
Bond Tour"
and chose to return to flight duty
- knocking out the Ju 88 a little over 6 months
after his own adventure.  
CPT Ginder's
brother Dale Ginder kindly shared
memories of his older brother's life, and we
look forward to more photos and info from the
diary Cpt Ginder kept during his time with the
French Maquis.
"He kept it in case he didn't
make it out alive", reported Mr. Ginder in a
phone interview.
Amazingly, Uwe Benkel has determined that
the Ju88 was shot down by P-47 pilot CPT
John Ginder, flying his "Hershey Hellion No.
2".  Six months earlier, on 10 June 44 and just
after DDay, CPT Ginder was shot down in
the first "Hershey Hellion" southeast of the
Allied invasion beaches on his 124rd combat
mission in 18 months. He was passed into the
French Resistance network by a farm family,
and hidden for 30 days with five other
downed airmen until hooking back up with
Patton's Army. During this time he even went
on night raids with the Maquis (Resistance).
"We sure were glad to see those fellows", said
Ginder about the armoured patrol that picked
them up.
The German Ju-88 was a twin-engine
multipurpose bomber with a 3 man crew,  
considered the "Maid of All Work" - or jack of
all trades - of the Luftwaffe. Over 16,000 were
produced in a variety of models. Since this
crash occurred on 1 Jan 1945, this plane was
probably one of 1000 Luftwaffe planes
committed to kick off
"Operation Nordwind".
This unsuccessful last ditch offensive against
the US 7th Army was meant to pull  troops
away from the Battle of the Bulge farther north.
As always, thanks to Uwe Benkel and his Flugzeugabstuerze Arbeitsgruppe for their work to
provide respectful closure to these German, US, and British families.
Cpt. John Ginder,
around 25 years old,
during his service.
In the June 2009 edition of a Hershey historical publication, resident
Ted Herman shares more information on Cpt. Ginder. John Ginder
worked at the Hershey planeing mill and country club after high
school, and joined the Pennsylvania National Guard 104th Cavalry.
His brother Dale said he was assigned to guard a water plant after
Pearl Harbor and said, "That's not for me", prompting his application
to aviation training. He qualified as a single-engine fighter pilot and
joined the 50th Fighter/Bomb Group based in Lymington England.  In
addition to providing fighter support to bombers and transport planes,
after DDay the unit was tasked with close air support for ground
troops. It was on one of these missions that then-Lt Ginder was shot
down on 10 June 1944.  
Special thanks go to Cpt. Ginder's younger brother Dale, who shared his memories in March
2011 of this time.  "John's letters were like a book", he laughed.  The pilot wrote about his
experiences "as much as he could" in letters which have been preserved. When the family was
notified by telegram that John was MIA, "that was quite a time", said Dale. Other pilots on the
mission had written and told them they saw John exit the plane and wave at them, so he was
alive after the crash. The plane was smoking and little was left of the wings. The family waited
nervously all summer for the next telegram, which would "tell us one way or another". In the
meantime, their letters to John were returned home. One day, the Hershey postmaster handed
Cpt. Ginder's father a letter as he was leaving work at the Hershey Chocolate factory. "You
might be interested in this," he said. Mr.Ginder returned home and laid the letter on the kitchen
table where his wife was sitting. To their astonishment, it was not a returned letter but one
written to them by their son just before he was liberated by Patton's troops in August - alive!
The personal letter had reached them before the official notification telegram.  Cpt Ginder
chose to return to flight status and eventually married a local girl.  They had two boys, and  
enjoyed a long career in the Air Force with posts in Japan, post-war Korea, Dover Delaware,
and Myrtle Beach.  After retiring, then-LTC Ginder succumbed to cancer in 1976.