Alan Magee

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Alan Eugene Magee
Born (1919-01-13)January 13, 1919
Plainfield, New Jersey
Died December 20, 2003(2003-12-20) (aged 84)
San Angelo, Texas
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch USAAF
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit 303d Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Air Medal
Purple Heart

Alan Eugene Magee (January 13, 1919 – December 20, 2003) was an American airman during World War II who survived a 22,000-foot (6,700 m) fall from his damaged B-17 Flying Fortress. He was featured in Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 10 most amazing survival stories of World War II.

Military career and fall[edit]

Immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, Magee joined the United States Army Air Forces and was assigned as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber.

On January 3, 1943, his Flying Fortress—B-17F-27-BO, 41-24620, nicknamed "snap! crackle! pop!"[1]—part of the 360th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group,[2] was on a daylight bombing run over Saint-Nazaire, France, when German fighters shot off a section of the right wing, causing the aircraft to enter a deadly spin. This was Magee's seventh mission.

Magee was wounded in the attack but managed to escape from the ball turret. His parachute had been damaged and rendered useless by the attack, so he leapt from the plane without one, rapidly losing consciousness due to the altitude. He fell over four miles before crashing through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station. The glass roof shattered, mitigating the force of Magee's impact. Rescuers found him on the floor of the station.

Magee was taken as a prisoner of war and given medical treatment by his captors. He had 28 shrapnel wounds in addition to his injuries from the fall: several broken bones, severe damage to his nose and eye, lung and kidney damage, and a nearly severed right arm.

Magee was liberated in May 1945 and received the Air Medal for meritorious conduct and the Purple Heart. On January 3, 1993, the 50th anniversary of the attack, the people of St. Nazaire honored Magee and the crew of his bomber by erecting a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) memorial to them.

Personal life[edit]

Magee was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, as the youngest of six children.

After the war, he earned his pilot's license and worked in the airline industry in a variety of roles. He retired in 1979 and moved to northern New Mexico. He died in San Angelo, Texas, on December 20, 2003, from stroke and kidney failure, at the age of 84.

See also[edit]

Fall survivors


  1. ^ B-17 #41-24620 "snap! crackle pop!" aircraft information from, Magee's unit.
  2. ^ "Alan Magee Story". 1943-01-03. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 

External links[edit]