A Higher Call

Published in 2013 by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander

Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.

Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Gen Welsh

CSAF Message

Franz Stiegler reminds us that even on opposite sides of the war, humanity and honor can prevail. You’ll be inspired by this true account of a German airman who displayed extraordinary courage to save the lives of a crippled American aircrew returning from battle during World War II.

Adam Makos

About The Authors

Adam Makos is a journalist, historian, and editor of the military magazine, Valor. In his fifteen years of work in the military field, Makos has interviewed countless veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and present-day wars.

Larry Alexander

About The Authors

Larry Alexander, a journalist and columnist for the Intelligencer Journal newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for more than a decade, has won numerous awards for excellence in journalism.