Bob Enstad Obit 615th Squadron

By: Donald Byers
On: 01/22/2003
Bob Enstad  2nd Lt. Bob Enstad of Duluth participated in the civilian pilot training program in Duluth, then joined the Army Air Corps, where he became the co-pilot of a B-17 with the 401st Bomb Group, 615th Squadron. On May 28, 1944, on a mission to Dessau, Germany, Enstad’s bomb group experienced their worst day of the war, losing 7 out of the 21 aircraft on the mission. After first losing an engine to enemy fire, Enstad’s aircraft was attacked from the tail and peppered with 20 mm shells; one exploded in Enstad’s backpack, and the cockpit was “solid flame” after the oxygen supply and hydraulic system exploded. Though he was unable to see anything, he was able to get into the nose of the airplane. While he was heading for front hatch, the plane exploded, and the force of the explosion seems to have opened the hatch and forced him out. He recalls falling, with large, heavy pieces of metal falling down all around him, and seeing a human torso floating down. His own chute torn, with half the shroud lines missing, Enstad “was coming down like a rock.” He landed in a freshly plowed field, and when he regained consciousness, his navigator, Charlie, was standing over him, along with a German citizen. The airmen were taken to the center of a German town, and more and more downed airmen straggled in. All were then made to march out to a cemetery, where the bodies of their crew members were laid out for identification and burial in a common grave. Enstad and his navigator were the only two from their crew of 10 to survive. Enstad, severely wounded, endured a year of harsh conditions in German prisons, including food shortages, infestations of pests, and boredom, long marches in winter weather, being locked into boxcars with other wounded prisoners and the cars left in the rail yards with their human cargo while American bombs rained down on them. Enstad was liberated from prison with the Allied victory in Europe, and was released from service November 7, 1945.  

Re: Bob Enstad Obit 615th Squadron

By: Bushendorf
On: 11/27/2003
I have been corresponding with his wife.  She gave no indication that he had passed away.  Please reply.