Much has been written about the ‘Greatest Generation’, and I think the story of the crew of the Mairzy Doats does nothing to diminish that label. From discussion with descendants and/or relatives of the crew, these flyers also lived up to the expectation of not talking about their war exploits.
One thing that surprised me was the lack of interaction of the crew after the war. What interaction that did occur only lasted for a brief period of time. The emphasis after the war seemed to be to move on with career and family.
In the case of Maynard Jones, he met his future wife after the war and soon found himself being in medical school and in fatherhood. His wife, B. Lou, appeared disinterested in Maynard’s wartime service. In some sense, she seemed to have more interest in her father’s World War I service, even though her father never actually saw combat in that conflict. I suspect her attitude was reflective of the times.
Another point of interest is the differentiation of enlisted crewmembers vs. officers. Certainly, the training was separate, but so were the accommodations, meals, segregation on the plane, and separate POW camps. The enlisted prisoners of war were liable to being forced to work at their camps while officers were not. Even amongst the mothers and wives of the crew, letters after September 27 were mostly between families of the officers. Part of that discrepancy may have been the unavailability of addresses of all crewmembers.
The period of time between the downing of the Mairzy Doats and notification of next of kin of capture or death is something that is impossible to imagine now. That the families lived in a ‘shadow’ for weeks and months with some manner of acceptance and inevitability is also something that would be difficult to envision now.
Given the large scale and severity of wartime actions and the reputation of Hitler and the Nazis, it also seems remarkable that the International Red Cross could deliver mail and packages to the prisoners of war in Germany and to deliver their letters to families back in the United States. It is also so very fortunate that with few exceptions the POWs of the Stalags were not killed before their liberation as were the inmates of the concentration camps. I do think the professionalism of the German military (excluding the SS) would have prevented such an outcome.
While the main focus of this manuscript has been Maynard L. Jones, it is apparent that his story would be incomplete without inclusion of the stories of other crewmembers of the Mairzy Doats. One would like to know more about Ed Hautman’s ill-conceived buzzing of his parent’s house and the circumstances of his death. Carroll Snidow’s about his quizzing Ed Hautman at the time of the order to abandon the Mairzy Doats is interesting as his questioning suggests that the plane might not have been doomed so immediately as to require to order to ‘abandon ship’. The actions of Orvel Howe seem heroic at the time of the Mairzy Doats abandonment, but perhaps the actions of the others were just as heroic but unrecognized.
It seems important to me that these men and their families be remembered for their services to the United States, the strengths of their spirits in the face of adversity and uncertainty, and their sacrifices on behalf of then current and future generations.
It is also clear that details will continue to be discovered about the crew of the Mairzy Doats.
For further information about the Kassel mission, I would recommend that the website of the Kassel Mission Historical Society would be a good place to start at www. kasselmission.org.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I apologize for any inaccuracies in trying to relate the stories of the crew of the Mairzy Doats and their families. I have tried to tell their stories in an objective manner, relying on documents and not trying to speculate. It was never my intention to besmirch the memory or actions of anyone; any perception is regretted.
Craig R. Garrett, COL, USA (retired)