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Lambertus off to Germany for WWII military memorial

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By Hilary Maynard, The Courier-Herald

Nearly six decades after William Lambertus was killed in action during World War II, his sister-in-law is returning to her native Germany to attend a memorial service in his honor.

On Aug. 4, Arnhild Lambertus and her son Keith, a captain with the Enumclaw Fire Department, will attend a memorial service for her brother-in-law and all the members of "Walthall's Crew" in Borkum, Germany.

Sgt. William Lambertus was a tail gunner in the U.S. Air Force and flew his last mission on Aug. 4, 1944. While bombing enemy targets in Germany, the B-17 bomber that carried Lambertus and eight others was hit by debris and forced to make an emergency landing. Two soldiers exited the plane by parachute and the seven that remained in the aircraft survived the crash. They were immediately captured by German forces and forced to march through the town of Borkum where the townspeople beat them with shovels and spades. Finally, all seven were executed, shot in the back of the head.

The memorial service will honor 2nd Lt. and pilot Harvey Walthall, 2nd Lt. William Myers, 2nd Lt. Howard Graham, Sgt. Kenneth Faber, Sgt. James Danno, Sgt. William Dold and Sgt. William Lambertus.

"They said it was a black mark on Germany, and it was," said Lambertus. "But America and every other country has black marks as well. It is nice that the city of Borkum is hosting a memorial."

The two crewmembers who parachuted from the plane were separated, then captured and put into prisoner-of-war camps. 2nd Lt. Quentin Ingerson and Sgt. Kazmer Rachak were eventually liberated by the Russians and returned to the United States. They will attend the memorial and pay tribute to their fellow crewmembers.

Along with Ingerson, Rachak and members of the Lambertus family, 18 others will attend the memorial. The mayor of Borkum will preside, along with members of the clergy, representatives from the U.S. Air Force and other community members from both countries.

Arnhild Lambertus moved to the United States from Germany in 1948, married John Lambertus in 1950 and had five children. The family moved to Germany in 1989, but moved back to the United States three years later.

"John loved living in Germany," said Lambertus. "I was the one who wanted to move back here. I love America. I just feel more free here."

Although her husband died five years ago, she believes he would have loved that his brother was being honored. With two grandsons in the U.S. military, one currently in Iraq, Lambertus believes that honoring those fallen is important.

"(Germany) does not have to do this, but they are anyway. It's a nice gesture. I'm just excited to go back and honor my brother-in-law."

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