In memory of Robert M. Trimble,
who went to war,
and Eleanor Trimble,
who brought him home again.
From the first inception to the final proof, this book and its authors have been helped along their way by a host of kind and gifted people.
Michael and John Kaluta assisted with the early research, and gave access to the rich resource of photos, film, and documents belonging to their father, Lieutenant William R. Kaluta, who was at Poltava throughout the duration of Eastern Command and became its official historian. William MacLeod kindly passed on to us the recollections of his father, Sergeant Don MacLeod, and helped with the sourcing and identification of photographs of the Lieutenant Tillman crew during their time in Poland and Ukraine. Don Nicholson (former major, USAAF) kindly gave his recollections of Poltava and Lwów, and of his work on aircrew rescue for Eastern Command, along with copies of documents and help with photo identification. The Vergolina family generously allowed us to read the POW memoir and press clippings of Sergeant Rudy Vergolina; his son Al and grandson Joseph helped with discussion of Rudy’s experiences in Normandy and Poland.
David Schmitt of the 493rd Bombardment Group (H) Memorial Association provided a wealth of information about the group’s missions, including copies and transcripts of original mission documents. Lisa Sharik of the Texas Military Forces Museum, Austin, was very helpful in providing information and photos from the Lieutenant Tillman Collection. The tracing of the record of the Croix de Guerre awarded to Robert Trimble was assisted by Gérome Villain, along with Lieutenant Colonel Michèle Szmytka of the Ministère de la Défense et des Anciens Combattants.
Mike Allard helped with the early research, and brought to light the short snorter signed by Robert Trimble and the Tillman crew. Mike Mucha of the Aircraft MIA Project, Poland, and Geoff Ward of the 96th Bomb Group Association (UK) gave valuable information on the adventures of the crew. Doug Sheley’s online albums were helpful in sourcing photos from the USAF archive. Irena Kotlobulatova kindly gave permission to use a photo of the George Hotel in Lviv, Ukraine (formerly the Hotel George, Lwów, Poland).
The staff at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, and the Cambridge University Library were invaluable in easing the path of documentary research.
Thank you to Natalee Rosenstein, Robin E. Barletta, and everyone at Penguin/Berkley for having faith in the book. Special thanks to our agent Andrew Lownie for seeing the potential in the story of Captain Robert Trimble and bringing the two of us together to tell it.
Finally, heartfelt gratitude goes to Carol Trimble Minnich and Robert Howard Trimble, Lee’s sister and brother, for their help and support in bringing their father’s war stories to light, and to Lee’s beloved wife, Robin, and children, Rachael and Aaron, for their tireless re-reading, opinions, and encouragement.