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Home > Military Bio's > Capt. Dick Nelms - 1944 B-17 Pilot

Capt. Dick Nelms

Dick Nelms is a 95 year-old World War II veteran who piloted a B-17 Flying Fortress over Germany and Nazi occupied Europe in 1944. He completed 35 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Air Medals and a Presidential unit citation among others for his efforts.

Dick flew his missions from Rattlesden, England and after returning home from one mission, the crew counted more than 300 holes in the airplane. That plane, named “Pandora’s Box”, was so badly damaged on the mission that it never flew in combat again. Amazingly, not a single crewmember was killed or injured on that mission.

On only his third mission which was to Berlin, sixty-eight B-17’s with 680 men aboard, were shot from the sky and it was the largest single day loss in the history of the Eight Air Force during WWII.

Dick returned home after the war and became a very successful commercial artist. He has lived on Mercer Island in Washington state since 1953 and still volunteers at the Seattle Museum of Flight, speaking twice monthly about his experiences. Dick is truly an American hero!

Squadron Tees is proud to have created a custom-designed tee shirt to help commemorate Dick’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2019 for completing his service in WWII!!

Dick in May 2018 (age 95)

Dick in 1944 (age 21)

Dicks B-17 crew (Dick is standing, second from the left)

Dick holding his Distinguished Flying Cross

Here Dick is holding a piece of a German V-2 rocket that exploded near him in London while he was on leave. He told me he still remembers how hot it was when he picked it up 74 years ago!

Dick in 1944 at Rattlesdan

Dick at the Seattle Museum of Flight in 2018 posing in front of the B-17 mannequin.

This gentleman is a 97-year old fellow B-17 pilot who served with Dick in the 8th Air Force (they didn’t know of each other during the war). Bill also survived 35 missions and they share memories few of us can understand. The Greatest Generation!

Squadron Tees custom-designed shirt celebrating Dick’s 75th anniversary of completing 35 missions in 1944!

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