Surviving a B-17 bailout in 1944 over France, airman, John Katsaros is captured by the Gestapo. Then he is rescued by the French underground in what begins a perilous quest for freedom through France and Spain.
His detailed account unfolds a true story of grit, grace, and pure luck.
The illustrated, 341 page tale is recounted with detailed descriptions of his French "helpers" and escapee companions while they hide from the relentless Germans and their sympathizers. Katsaros has resurrected the story after being sworn to secrecy by the US Government for 60 years.
Comments By: C. Scott Miller, Lt. U.S. Navy, (Ret.)
Rescued by the French Underground after being gravely wounded when shot down over Frankfurt, Germany in March 1944, a young American patriot literally crawls and climbs his way across the European battlefields, risking his life to send strategic target Information to Britain. Heroism and survival instincts work together to show how the stark horror of World War II as experienced by a 20 year old U.S. Army Air Force Sergeant can be ennobled by the unconditional charity and bravery of men and women fighting to be free in occupied France.
Over sixty years has not diminished the graphic nightmare of human mutilation in war games that seem primitive in our electronic
age. The sense of history and the will to win freedom shine in this personal recollection of individuals on both sides of the conflict. This story reminds us that real people alive today battled for their
right to live and for ours.
“Code Burgundy- The Long Escape”, edited by G. Steve Chirigotis, Col USAF (Ret); is a true story authored by John Katsaros, a 20 year old aerial gunner on his 11th bombing mission, flying on the B-17 “Man O’ War”, piloted by Lt. Jack Dunaway, out of England 20 March 1944 on a raid to destroy an FW-190 aircraft factory at Frankfurt, Germany, is shot down by enemy ME-109 aircraft cannon and .50 cal. machine-gun fire. Three crewmen are killed on station during the attack, two engines are blown out and the wing is in flames when the alarm is given to bail out. The navigator is the first man to bail out, his chute “candled” and he did not survive the landing. John, seriously wounded with a splintered right arm, assists his crew mates with their wounds before he bails out. Only John experienced the fear of pursuit by the Gestapo after his rib-cracking landing, from a 25,000 foot free fall. Twice he is captured by the Gestapo and escapes with the assistance of the brave Free French Resistance who hide John over a three month period to nurse him back to health and to assist him in his travels from the north of France, south to climb the Pyrenees and to Freedom, only to be locked up by the Spanish Constabulary.
John, “under secrecy oath by the government and, under heavy penalty of punishment”, was unable to reveal his story until recently when the oath of secrecy was lifted.
John’s medical treatment in France, while on the run, is owed to a Dr. Levy, a Jew, who is hiding out from the Gestapo in the cellar of his clinic. With the insistence of the Free French Underground, punctuated by a pistol to his head, Dr. Levy performed three surgeries within three days on John’s gangrenous arm to save it and his life.
USAF Military Academy, Colorado Springs, Co.
WWII Memorial, Washington, DC and the 8th Air Force, 401st Bomb Group
Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, NH, The Operations Group Officers
8th Air Force Historical Society, Mass. Chapter, USAF Hanscom Air Base, Bedford, MA
Mass. Aviation Historical Society, Civilian Terminal, Hanscom Airfield, Bedford, MA
Cathedral Of The Pines, Rindge, NH a US National Registered Historical Museum, dedicated to US servicemen and women Killed In Action.
Good Samaritan Veterans Org., Kissimmee, Florida
Veterans, Hidden Cove West Group, Winter Haven, Florida
Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Ex-Prisoners of War, etc. Groups, Boston, Lowell, Methuen, Haverhill, MA, etc.
AHEPA, American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, International Convention, Montreal, Canada
AHEPA, American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, Worcester and Haverhill, MA Chapters.
US, Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society, (AFEES) Convention, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Dayton, Ohio, San Antonio, Texas
Disabled American Veterans (DAV), EX-POW, American Legion etc. Groups, Boston, Lowell, Georgetown, Haverhill MA
UMass Lowell University, History Class and Students, Lowell, MA
Boston University, Dean of SGS
Northern Essex Community College (NECCO) Haverhill/Lawrence, MA
High Schools and Grammar Schools, throughout New England
Collings Foundation, Stow, MA. Re-enactment week-end. Speaker along with two Medal of Honor, Recipients.
Naples, Florida, City Museum
Homer Helter's WWII Museum, Naples, Florida
Anciente and Secret Order Established year 1921 Quiet Birdman's, Boston Hanger; Military, Commercial, Airline and Private Pilots
Monadnock Aviation; Veterans, Military, Commercial , Airlines and Private Pilots Group, Keene, NH Airport
Libraries, Boynton Beach City Library, Florida; Newburyport, Haverhill, MA.
Churches in Andover, Brookline, Haverhill and Peabody, MA. and Biddiford/Saco, Maine, Maitlan, Florida
Churches Mens Group
Council for the Aging, Various Cities