On July 2, 1944, the 376 Bomb Group was en route to Budapest, when the crew of aircraft 42-73140 noticed an engine problem. They had to drop their bomb load early and turn back to base. Soon they had another engine die and the plane began to lose altitude. The crew had to bail out near Sarajevo.
Five crewmen bailed out first, while the remaining crew jumped out further west where they were captured by German forces. The five rescued crewman were:
Carroll and Messick were contacted by Chetnik soldiers after being on the ground for six hours, while Granger and Johnston were hidden for three days by local villagers before Chetniks were called.
Woods found two Chetniks after two hours and they continued to walk together. However, they soon came across some Partisans soldiers and were captured. The Chetniks were set free, and Woods continued the journey with the Partisans to the Allied mission. He remained there until he was evacuated on August 3.
Meanwhile, after ten days, the remaining four airmen started their 25-day walk to Pranjani, via Visegrad and Zlatibor Mt. They arrived shortly before evacuation on August 10.
George Messick (top row, second from the left) had some unexpected memories from his escape:
"But the biggest memory I have of my stay with the Chetniks was beans - green beans - morning, noon and night. You haven't lived until you've subsisted for six weeks on beans with no salt, no seasoning. To this day I can't look a green bean in the face."