World War II veteran honored

HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – It was 70 years ago on Friday that a graduate of Warren Harding High school was shot down by the Germans in World War II.

Donald Freer was honored for his bravery during a ceremony at the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum on North River Road. Freer was a B-17 pilot  for the 322nd Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group and completed 26 missions.

On his 27th mission, he was shot down over Berlin on Dec. 5, 1944. He said he still recalls what happened like it was just yesterday.

“We were at about 30,000 feet when we got hit. By the time we were ready to bail out, several of the guys were wounded. We were at about 20,000 feet up north of Berlin. All of the crew except for two survived,” Freer said.

Once shot down, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. He spent six months in captivity until being liberated by the Russians on May 15, 1945.

Freer had two brothers who served in World War I and another brother who also served in World War II.

After the conclusion of the war, Freer remained a member of the Air Force Reserves. He attended Ohio State University and received a Bachelor of Science in engineering.

Freer resumed working for Packard Electric, where he met his wife, Mary. They wed in 1956 and have been married for 57 years.

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