Crawford Hicks was born in Leitchfield, Kentucky in 1921, three years after the end of World War I. Growing up on a ten-acre farm outside of Louisville, Hicks dreamed of one day flying. He read everything he could find about the pilots who flew during World War I.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Hicks knew that if he had to go into the military, he wanted to fly. Following his 21st birthday, Hicks signed up for the Air Corps and began his pre-flight training in the summer of 1942. Hicks finished flying school in April of 1943, and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He then travelled to Columbus, Ohio where he learned to pilot a B-17 Flying Fortress, the airplane he would fly on his ten missions over Germany.
Hicks and his flight crew flew out of Polebrook, England for each of their missions. For their first mission, they were charged with bombing a German base on the coast of France. After successfully hitting their target, Hicks and his crew flew back to Polebrook to await their next assignment. They would fly several more missions together including four missions to hit targets in Berlin. On each mission, their B-17 plane accrued damage from enemy fire as Hicks and his crew narrowly escaped back to the safety of their Polebrook base. Hicks failed to escape on his tenth and last mission. He was shot down and captured as a prisoner of war during his return flight over France. German military officials interrogated Hicks and his fellow captured crew members in Frankfurt. From there, they were sent to Stalag Luft III, a German prisoner of war camp.
Stalag Luft III was built in 1942 for the purpose of interning captured Allied Air Force personnel like Hicks. He would remain at Stalag Luft III until December of 1944. As Allied Forces made their way closer to Berlin, the German military transferred prisoners of war to camps further inland. Hicks and his fellow inmates marched first to a camp in Nuremburg and then to the Moosburg camp in southern Bavaria. In April of 1945, General Patton’s Third Army liberated the Moosburg camp and Hicks began his journey back home to Louisville. After the war, Hicks married his fiancé, René, and they had three sons together. He spent most of his postwar career working for the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI). Hicks currently lives in Warner Robins, Georgia.