Zimmerman, Leon


Zimmerman, Leon
Leon Zimmerman
William Vollano
Leon Zimmerman was born in Hersey, Michigan on June 4, 1924 in a town of 206 people. Leon was attending Grand Rapids University when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the Army rather than being drafted and having no choice of assignment. After numerous tests, Leon was finally assigned to Bombardier training. His first six weeks were spent marching, and doing calisthenics. Eventually Leon was transferred to Las Vegas for gunnery school, followed by Advanced Bombardier School in New Mexico. Leon graduated in 2/4/44 and was sent to England by way of Baltimore and Florida, where he was assigned to a replacement crew in the 8th Air Force. Eventually, his crew was assigned to the 457th Bomb Group. His crew participated in a number of training flights before they went on a mission. Their first mission was uneventful, a "Milk Run," that experienced no flak, no losses, no battle damage. There were many other missions by his crew. Two missions especially stood out for Leon. The first was over Stettin where they took a great deal of flak and were very close to ditching the plane. They did return to England safely however. The other was in Northern Germany. His B17 crew had to bail out because of the extensive damage. After a harrowing jump, he was captured by the Home Guard. His treatment was poor until the regular army took over. Leon and his crew were assigned to a camp that was commanded by a former Luftwaffe General who treated prisoners with respect. It was not a pleasant time but certainly it was not overly difficult. Leon's camp was liberated by the Russians. After spending time in different camps and some time in Paris, he returned home, by troop ship. He met and married his wife after his discharge. They are now in retirement in Jackson, Michigan.
Date Span
Dates of Service
Commissioned; United States Army Air Forces/Corps; 751st Bomb Squadron, 457th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force; World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - European Theater; United States; First Lieutenant; Prisoner of War
Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Collection Location
Spatial Coverage
Second World War - European Theater; United States
Item sets