AMES, Iowa–A Story County World War II Veteran is honored for his service during a special ceremony.
Ninety-year-old John Bryner Jr. was honored by the Story County Veterans Affairs for his service during the war.
Bryner was presented with the America Campaign medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign medal, WWII Victory medal, Air medal, a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medal.
Bryner volunteered for the Army Air Corps when he was 19 years old.
He ended up becoming a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber with orders to bomb locations throughout Germany.
“We flew our first mission to bomb Vienna and I thought I’m not going to survive this because there was a 288 millimeter gun shooting at me,” says Bryner.
His crew had more than one close call.
“We got home and landed and the co-pilot got up and looked underneath the wing and one of those bullets was sticking up right underneath the gas tank, he pulled that down and said woo,” says Bryner Jr.
It was on Bryner’s 3rd mission when his plane was attacked by German jet fighters.
“I`m looking out there and there is fire coming from the left-wing all the way back and I thought Jesus help me, I’m going to die here,” says Bryner.
Bryner said he got one shot off before the plane started going down.
“We went into a tight spin, I couldn’t get to my escape door I was on the other side and finally the wing broke off and we stopped spinning and I was able to parachute down.”
Bryner was the only one who escaped, his nine other crews members all died in the crash.
“I landed in a soft meadow there and some Hitler youth came out and got their sergeant and picked me up. I was a POW until the end of the war,” says Bryner.
The ceremony allowed Bryner a chance to share his story, and for the Story County Veterans Affairs to say thank you.
“I feel very good am upbeat and thank God for saving my life,” says Bryner.
Bryner went on to get his doctorate with his G.I. Bill and worked for the Department of Agriculture for 40 years.
Bryner went back to Germany in 2005 and helped dedicate a memorial for his nine crew members and the 12 Germans who were killed when his plane crashed in 1945.
It was there he also met the German fighter pilot who shot down his plane.