When Erik and Sonni Bornmeier spent Memorial Day 2018 watching Band of Brothers, they had no idea the series would inspire them to try to solve the mystery of what had happened to Sonni’s great-uncle, an Army Air Force pilot who was shot down over France during WWII.
The Bornmeiers’ used military records from Fold3, newspaper articles from Newspapers.com, plus some old-fashioned detective work to piece together the story of 1LT George F. Wilson.
On July 8, 1944, Lt. Wilson flew his B-17 with nine men aboard in formation with 23 other “Flying Fortresses” just outside of Normandy, France.
Their targets: Germany’s guided cruise missiles called V1s. The Germans were launching them from ramps in France and sending them across the English Channel to rain down death and destruction on London’s citizens.
Wilson’s B-17 was hit by flak and crashed just minutes before the crew could bomb their target. To his credit, Wilson maintained control of the plane long enough to allow all of the crew to bail out safely. But George “Frankie” Wilson was too badly injured to parachute safely out of the plane before it crashed into a field near the village of Monchy-Cayeux, France.
The Bornmeiers have made trips to France to try and find George’s remains. To support their efforts, they have a Facebook page called “Finding George,” full of photographs and evidence they have collected during their research. It also includes information about what artifacts and information they have found in France. The village of Monchy-Cayeux has also tried to help in the effort to find 1Lt. Wilson and bring him home.
Wilson is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France:
|Rank||First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces|
|Unit||601st Bomber Squadron, 398th Bomber Group, Heavy|
|Entered Service From||
|Date of Death||July 8, 1944|
|Status||Missing In Action|
|Memorialized||Tablets of the Missing
Normandy American Cemetery
Inscribed on the exterior wall of the walkway to Overlook at the Normandy American Cemetery are the words of French President René Coty:
We have not forgotten, we will never forget, the debt of infinite gratitude that we have contracted with those who gave everything for our freedom.
Hi! My name is Sonni Bornemeier. My husband Erik & I just found your blog post as we were doing a little Google search on our Finding George FB page. I just wanted to thank you for a really well written article! We were very surprised to find it on our search since we knew nothing about it but are grateful that you’re passing on our family story to your family. Thank you!!
Thank you for writing and letting us know that you enjoyed the article! It was an honor to share George’s story with our readers. Thank you for never giving up on your quest to find George. We owe so much to that selfless generation of young men and women. They deserve to be remembered and honored always.