Ignatius Nalewaja Oral History
Ignatius Nalewaja was born on July 27, 1917 in Delano, Minnesota and raised in Browerville, Minnesota. In the 1930s he barnstormed airplanes with his brother Paul. At the start of World War II, he joined the Army Air Force Reserves and later was on active duty as a flight engineer and upper turret gunner on a B-17 bomber. In the European theater, he flew 35 missions between October 1944 and February 1945 and then stayed on as flight mechanic for the remainder of the war. After World War II, Nalewaja established his own machine shop business. In 1954, he married to Frances. Nalewaja passed away on February 5, 2007 and buried at the Christ the King Catholic Cemetery in Browerville.
In an interview on February 4, 1990, Ignatius Nalewaja described his activities before World War II. With his brother Paul, he mainly barnstormed planes. During the war, Nalewaja joined the Army Air Force as a flight engineer and upper turret gunner. He discussed his training in Amarillo, Texas for mechanics, gunner training in Kingman, Arizona and finally overseas training in Sioux City, Iowa. At the completion of training, he was part of a crew that flew to England as part of the 486 Bomber Group. Between October 1944 and February 1945, he participated in 35 missions, mainly over Germany, including Cologne, Berlin, Leipzig, and Merseberg. Nalewaja recounted his encounters with enemy aircraft and what it was like to fly through flak during the Battle of the Bulge. Nalewaja remembered missions that the plane was damaged enough to straggle behind the rest of the group, including a flight in which the plane had an emergency landing in France. At the end of the interview, Nalewaja described the Germans taking crashed B-17s and using them to tail the bomber groups and radioing the flak cannons about their shots. He finished by discussing his plans at the end of the war and after the war.
Interview by John Carter
St. Cloud State University, "Ignatius Nalewaja Oral History" (1990). World War II Veterans. 29.