Sam’s Blanket

On 16 July 1944, the 398th Bomb Group attacked the aircraft engine factory at Munich and lost two B-17s. One of the destroyed B-17s had Samuel Miller flying as tail gunner. He bailed out but upon landing fractured his spine and both ankles. He lay in the Tyrolean Alps near Achenkirk, Austria, for two days until members of the Hitler Youth found him and reported his location to Nazi authorities. Miller became a hospitalized POW, held in the German orthopedic hospital, Reserve-Lazaret Obermassfeld.

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While recovering from his injuries, Sam created a blanket by collecting military patches and pieces of fabric from people he met in the hospital. By the time Sam was liberated by Allied Forces in the spring of 1945, he had stitched 121 insignia patches to the fabric pieces to make this 4 ½ by 6 foot patchwork blanket. Of the other eight crewmen on Sam’s airplane, two were killed in action: Curtis Lovelace, pilot; and Gerald Anataillia, ball turret gunner. Six others parachuted to safety and became POWs: Robert Hart, copilot; Robert Uhl, navigator; Alton Andrews, bombardier; Robert Rees, flight engineer; Clifford Weatherwax, radio operator; Donald Land, waist gunner.