The Story Behind This Iconic World War II Photograph Is Astonishing

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Image: American Air Museum

Lt. Col Lokker was a highly experienced pilot and leader. A graduate of West Point, Lokker had qualified as a pilot in March 1942. When he passed out of flying school, he married his college sweetheart, Sybil Bralley. They had one child together, David, a son Lokker spent just three days with before he was posted to Italy.

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Once in Italy, Lokker flew some 40 missions over enemy territory in a range of European countries including Germany, France, Hungary and Yugoslavia. His exceptional bravery was recognized by a Purple Heart, an Air Medal and a Distinguished Flying Cross. His November 20 mission was to be another extremely dangerous one.

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Image: Hand De Bruin

That day, Lokker’s B-24 had a larger crew than normal because the plane was leading the attack on Blechhammer. The crew’s numbers were swelled to 11 with the addition of a lead navigator and lead bombardier, officers with responsibilities for the entire mission.

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