Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
Lt - Pilot 1
Birth:
24 Mar 1918 2
Death:
13 Oct 1999 2
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Lt Kendrick Bragg's B-17...a Miracle of itself. 1 Frb. 1943 damaged over N Africa
Lt Kendrick Bragg's B-17...a Miracle of itself. 1 Frb. 1943 damaged over N Africa
Lt Bragg's B-17 was one sturdy and faithful B-17, all survived at home in England.
Lt Bragg's B-17 was one sturdy and faithful B-17, all survived at home in England.
"B-17 ALL AMERICAN"  also quotes as the "Big American"  a Miracle none-the less...
"B-17 ALL AMERICAN" also quotes as the "Big American" a Miracle none-the less...
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Tunis, Tunisia-This Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Bragg of Savannah, Georgia, was on a bombing mission over Tunis on 1 February 1943 when a ME 109 dove at the ship. The Fortress fired on the attacking plane and
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Page 2
Tunis, Tunisia-This Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Bragg of Savannah, Georgia, was on a bombing mission over Tunis on 1 February 1943 when a ME 109 dove at the ship. The Fortress fired on the attacking plane and
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Page 4
Tunis, Tunisia-This Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Bragg of Savannah, Georgia, was on a bombing mission over Tunis on 1 February 1943 when a ME 109 dove at the ship. The Fortress fired on the attacking plane and
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Page 5
Tunis, Tunisia-This Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Bragg of Savannah, Georgia, was on a bombing mission over Tunis on 1 February 1943 when a ME 109 dove at the ship. The Fortress fired on the attacking plane and

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Personal Details

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Full Name:
"Sonny" Kendrick R Bragg,Jr. 1
Also known as:
B-17 97 BG, 414 BS 1
Full Name:
Kendrick R Bragg 2
Birth:
24 Mar 1918 2
Death:
13 Oct 1999 2
Residence:
Last Residence: St Thomas, VI 2
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World War II 1

Branch:
Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
Lt - Pilot 1
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Category:
ITALY WWII 1
Quote:
On a Wing and a Prayer 1
Social Security:
Card Issued: Unknown Code (PE) 2
Social Security Number: ***-**-1778 2

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Stories

THE B-17 in 1943*****************A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret. Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew - miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target. When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position. The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn. Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used" so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it. Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

Kendrick R "SONNY" Bragg, WWII "B-17 Miracle"

British Isles

B-17 Pilot, Lt Kendrick R Bragg; 97th Bom,b Group Heavy, 414th Bomb Squadron in England.

 B-17, The "ALL AMERICAN" also quotes as the "Big American" ....

B-17 "All American" (414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew

Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.

Copilot- G. Boyd Jr.

Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle

Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge

Engineer- Joe C. James

Radio Operator- Paul A. Galloway

Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda

Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk

Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus

Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland

Lt. Kendrick "Sonny" Bragg, a pilot with the 97th BG/414th BS stationed in England, (Combat Mission- North Africa) who flew the B-17 plane "Big American". On 1 Feb. '43, after dropping their bomb load, the plane was hit by an ME109, a German Fighter. The wing of the plane lodged in the rear of the B-17and sheared the plane almost in two. Lt. Bragg and his crew decided to try and fly it back home and they did!. After landing at their field the tail end fell off when workmen crawled up to investigate the damage. He is said to have been the inspiration for the famous song, "On a Wing and a Prayer." ************************************************* WWII flying ace, native Savannahian, dead at 81 Kendrick R. "Sonny" Bragg, the man who brought in a crippled B-17 during World War II, saving its entire crew, died Wednesday in North Carolina. He was 81. Bragg, who was born in Savannah and graduated from Savannah High School, was a decorated athlete in peacetime and a decorated pilot in war. He attended Duke University and played on the 1938 Rose Bowl team. He later attended the University of Miami on a diving scholarship. "He was an outstanding athlete," said Jane Porter, a long-time friend of the Bragg family who lives in Irvine, Texas. But he is most famous for his piloting prowess during the war, when he served in the Air Force as the pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress. He flew in the first American raid from England to the European mainland in the Eighth Air Force. After letting his bombs go over enemy targets, he would occasionally shout over his earphones "Boy-o-boy, we got 'em today! Boy, we really got 'em," he told a Savannah newspaper reporter in April 1943. His plane, "The All-American," became famous when, after a midair collision with an attacking German Messerschmitt, he flew his crew to safety. "Although the whole tail was wobbling as if it was made of rubber," Bragg brought the plane in for a perfect landing, according to an Associated Press dispatch from February 1943. According to aircraft experts who looked at the plane, it should not have been able to fly. After the landing, when somebody opened the door of the plane, the entire tail fell off, according to the report. Sam Sarpolus, the rear gunner in the plane at the time of the attack, told the Associated Press in 1943 the Messerschmitt attacked them head-on. That was common during the first B-17 missions, said James Munday, a former Air Force colonel who also flew B-17s during the war. Later models of the B-17 included nose turrets that made them less vulnerable to frontal assaults. Bragg received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service during the war. The song "Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer" was written to commemorate his heroic landing. Munday, who lives in Savannah, said he didn't know Bragg personally, but he's familiar with both the famous landing and the song. Bragg has been featured in exhibits at the Mighty 8th Air Force Heritage Museum. Porter said she came to Savannah and visited the museum last year. "It was fascinating. That's a very well-done museum," she said. After the war, Bragg graduated from Princeton University with a degree in architecture. He worked in New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the moved to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where he practiced architecture for 30 years. He died at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.

********* Miracle in the Air over German Enemy Territory *************

Placed 1 April, 2012, Barbi Ennis Connolly, Additional Information and/ or photo's are welcome.  PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com

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