Two War Time Articles Featuring Melvin Hecker

Chicago Tribune Articles
Transcribed by Rick Hecker

War correspondents and Group Public Relations Officers worked hard to give the folks back home a sense of what was going on and how "their" boys were doing. Here are two articles from the Chicago Tribune featuring Capt. Melvin R. Hecker

Chicago Tribune, Sunday,  June 30, 1943

Chicagoan Hero of Fort's Flight

American Air Base in England, June 29. ---(UP)--- The Flying Fortress named Georgia Rebel had a tough bout with a life raft and German fighter planes on the way back from St. Nazaire yesterday, but came home unscarred.

Lt. Oscar Jones of Albany, Ga., pilot of the Rebel, told today how the life raft almost downed his big ship. The raft broke loose and flew back alongside the Fort, wrapping itself around the tail fin.

The flapping raft set up vibrations throughout the Fortress and neutralized the controls. While the Rebel was spiraling down, Lt. Melvin R. Hecker of Chicago, the co-pilot, ran back to the waist of the ship.

Raft Wrenched Loose

Reaching out of the waist gunner's port, he tried to disengage the raft by tugging at its lines. Finally he tied the lines around the waist gun and with that leverage was able to wrench the raft loose.

While Hecker was fighting with the raft, the rest of the crew were fighting the Germans, who swarmed in to finish off the disabled ship. Two attacking planes were downed and the Rebel, her controls again responding to Jones' touch, rejoined her formation.

Three Brothers in Service

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis M. Hecker, 8001 Champlain av., Lt. Hecker has two brothers who are in the service, Lt. Col. Robert C. Hecker and Capt. George Hecker. Lt. M. R. Hecker, who is 23 and married, is a former student of the Illinois Institute of Technology and a graduate of Northwestern University. He received his wings on Oct. 7, 1942 at Ellington Field, Texas.

Chicago Tribune, Sunday, Feb. 13, 1944

Toe of Shoe Also shot Off by Flak

His shirt ripped to pieces and the front of his left shoe torn off by flak, Capt. Melvin R. Hecker appeared at the interrogation room of the 8th army air force unhurt. This was not so miraculous, he explained, because he was not in his shirt and shoes at the time they were struck. They were hanging in a bag behind his tail gun position on the flight in which he shot down a Nazi fighter during the mission against Nantes, France, on September 23. "It was close enough tho," Hecker said, looking down at the shirt.

Doubles as Gunner

The 23 year old south side pilot who doubles as a gunner, was promoted to captain and awarded the distinguished flying cross for his accomplishment. Besides piloting the Flying Fortress Big Time Operator which he was in at the 'kill", he has flown Lucifer Jr. and the widely publicized Tinker Toy.

In addition to his newly awarded distinguished flying cross, the captain, son of Mr. And Mrs. Louis M. Hecker, 8001 Champlain avenue, holds the air medal with two oak leaf clusters. He is veteran of more than 20 operations of the 8th army air forces and has held a pilot's license since he was 18 years old.

Enlisted in 1942

He enlisted in the air forces in January, 1942 as an aviation cadet. He won his wings and commission in October of the same year. A graduate of Calumet High School, he attended Armour Institute for two years studying mechanical engineering and then went on to De Paul university for one year.

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