Four days before Christmas in 1943, a badly damaged Americanbomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a twenty-one-year-oldpilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenlya sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmittfighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the Americanbomber with the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imaginationand later be called the mostincredible encounter between enemies in World War II.
This is the true story of the two pilots whose livescollided in the skies that day—the American—Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown, aformer farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—SecondLieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought toavoid fighting in World War II.
A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’sharrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flamingwreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light hiscockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks.Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and thespectacle of one thousand bombers, each with eleven guns, waiting for hisattack.
Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across thefrozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American EighthAir Force would later classify as top secret. It was an act that Franz couldnever mention without facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that wouldhaunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would searchfor one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.