364th Pilot Captures Prague/Ruzyne Airdrome
As told to Don Kocher when the Snedeckers and Kochers got together in 1948.
On April, 11 1945, the 357th FG was on an escort mission to Donauworth. After they were released from escort duty, they went looking for trouble and a few found it. They looked in on the Prague/Ruzyne Aerodrome, home of over 100 ME 262 jets. In spite of very intense light flak, they destroyed two ME262s, two JU88s and a big FW200. Three 364th pilots were shot down by flak during the strafing. Lts Monahan, Muller and Snedecker. I believe Lt. Irving Snedecker was the only survivor. (Merle Olmsted lists Muller and Monahan as POWs)
Irving Snedeker's P-51 Rovin Rhoda (L) 4 Bolts (R) 44-13783, C5-M
On his first pass across the airfield, there was a loud bang, a jolt to his Mustang and he saw his prop going off across the field. A 20MM shell had hit the prop hub taking the prop with it. He managed to land the crippled plane inside the Aerodrome perimeter fence. The plane broke in two behind the cockpit in the process. Quickly getting out of the wreck, he sat on the ground a safe distance from it and lit a cigarette, thinking it might be his last one fro a while. Told me it was a lonesome feeling watching the group leave for home.
Soon the German Air Police came for him and placed him in a cell on the base. He remained there for several days being entertained (his words) by the Pilots of the jets. The kidded him about flying obsolete propeller planes. Played cards with him and were generally quite friendly with even sharing Schnapps. Finally he was transferred to the city jail in Prague where he met an American Sgt., a gunner from a Bomber. During air raids, they were taken to a place he described as a cave along with the civilian population. They were made to stand facing the wall and in the semi-darkness, the people would slip goodies secretly to them.
On an unknown date, the two Americans were taken back to the Aerodrome where the Germans were destroying their jets and other nontranportable goods. They were informed that the Russians were a few days away and the Germans were abandoning the field. Lt. Snedecker was told that since he was the ranking American officer, they were placing themselves in his custody and that he would lead the convoy to meet the American Army coming toward them. The convoy consisted of eight or ten large trucks, fuel trailers and mobile kitchens all well draped with white sheets. The next day, they met units of the American 7th Army. The convoy stopped and waved pillow cases. No shots were fired and Lt. Snedecker and the Sgt. convinced the American Army that they were Americans and all ended well.
357th FG Newsletter July 97
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