Maurice Edwin Fridrich

During World War 2, Maurice E. Fridrich was a Navigator on a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber. The following links tell his story of his last bombing raid over Germany during which his plane was shot down, his survival, capture, and eventual release at the end of the war. He was 22 years old at the time of this raid.

See chapter 7 from the book
Foes by Fate...Friends by Choice by the Pilot, James A. “Pete” Mullinax.

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Maurice Edwin Fridrich was born December 27, 1921 in Tyndall, South Dakota, a small town in the southeastern part of the state near the Missouri River — the Nebraska state line. His parents were Arthur and Mattie [Hovorka] Fridrich.

He attended Dunwoody District 23 country school, and graduated from Tyndall High School in 1939. After graduation he moved to Los Angeles, California where he was employed at the Douglas Aircraft Company, an aircraft manufacturer later known as McDonnell-Douglas. Maurice had a strong love for airplanes, and joined the Air Force when World War II broke out. He became a Navigator and was stationed in England, after having flown over there from the USA in a B-17. The story of his experiences during the war is in his own words. Part 1 is entitled My 2nd Schweinfurt and Part 2 is Life as a POW. The 8th Air Force Museum at Pooler, GA (just NW of Savannah on I-95) displays a suitcase and a tin cup he made while a POW.

After release from the POW camp he was stationed in England, and then returned to the US in July, 1945. Following several assignments in the US, he arrived at the Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base at Fairfield, California. While there, he met Gertrude [Trudy] Almonte who lived in Fairfield, CA and was a telephone operator at the base.

From May to August, 1946 he attended Radio Operators school and then was sent on a Trans-Pacific Mission as a Radio Operator. This mission took him to Hawaii, Guam and most of the Pacific islands that were returned to USA after the war. When he returned on August 29, his discharge papers were ready. Before going to the separation center, he and Trudy were married on Sept. 7, 1946 in Reno, Nevada. His last assignment was at the Ft. Sheridan, Illinois Separation Center, 22 Oct to 30 Nov 1946 where he was separated from the service. After his discharge he and Trudy visited friends and family in the East, before retuning to California. Maurice attended UCLA and received a degree in Civil Engineering in 1951.

In 1954 he became a General Contractor and started the M. E. Fridrich Company. He ran the company for 46 years. About a week before his death, he was checking one of the pumping stations that he had installed when he slipped and fell, causing a severe head injury. Complications from this injury caused his death a few days later, on 18 January, 2001.

Maurice did not record this story until 1994-1996, and we have tried to put his writing in a perspective concerning the time period he covered. The notes that have been added are intended to do this, and to add to the meaning of his writing. They are shown in parentheses, like this: {--}.