Guy Proie, a B-24 ball-turret gunner, describes his World War II tour of duty in Europe as a “survival story.” His story is more than a survival story. It is a fascinating and detailed narrative about a young man who volunteered to be a ball-turret gunner, a position on his aircraft that none of the other junior enlisted crew members wanted.
“Nothing was too dangerous for me; it was the right decision.”
Guy describes the first of his twenty-one missions over enemy territory as a “milk run.” The remainder of the missions were anything but milk runs. “Things got progressively worse . . . Flak was terrible . . . We came back with many holes in our plane.”
On three missions, the crew had to overcome serious engine malfunctions. Mission after mission, “the flak got thicker and thicker.” On his twenty-first mission, the severity and concentration of flak took its toll. His plane was hit and was going down. Proie and three of his flight crew were able to bail out of the plane. He was captured immediately upon landing and was held in three prisoner-of-war camps: first in Frankfurt, second in Nuremberg, and third in Moosberg.
As American forces advanced upon Nuremberg, German guards force-marched Proie and 5,000 other Allied airmen 95 to 100 miles to Moosberg—Germany’s largest prisoner-of-war camp. On April 25, 1945, as the war was coming to an end, Proie and his fellow prisoners-of-war at Moosberg were liberated by tank elements of Patton’s Third Army.
On August 16, 2012, Guy Proie (Army Air Corps/WWII), Lester Snyder (Army/WWII) and Paul Zolbrod (Army/Korea) joined us for a day of preserving the stories of Pittsburgh area veterans. As we would do many times during the year, we set up out mobile recording studio in the cozy meeting room of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Brentwood.
The Final Story
Guy Anthony Proie, age 87, of Whitehall Boro, died Thursday, May 30, 2013. He was the son of the late Esther and Anthony Proie; beloved husband of 60 years to Dolores J. (McClain) Proie; loving father of Glenn (Cadda) Proie, Gary (Beverly) Proie and Bonnie Proie (Mark Lepore); dear grandfather of Brian, Rebecca, Michael, Alexandra and Maxwell Proie; dear great-grandfather to Lorenzo and Giovanni Proie; beloved brother of Frank (Ann) Proie, Jane (Louis) Rauso and the late Erma Proie (Edmund) Abel.
Guy was a WWII veteran having served in the Air Force, where he received a Purple Heart and was a former POW. He was an entrepreneur and successful businessman, who founded GBG, Inc. He was an avid golfer and above all he was a family man who enjoyed spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
A memorial visitation was held on Sunday 2 p.m. – 4p.m. at the Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, 301 Curry Hollow Road, Pleasant Hills, where a Memorial Service was held Monday 10 a.m. Donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or https://support.woundedwarrior project.org
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from June 1 to June 2, 2013