Our Family Came Close

by David Bueche

Movie theaters used to show newsreels before movies to keep the public up to date on major developments in the War, especially to keep morale at home high.

In 1945, in celebration of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), Frank Capra who is known for making the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmie Stewart, created the newsreel "Two Down and One to Go.”

The film documented the overall strategy for how the war had been fought so far. At first, it concentrates heavily on the Allied victory in Europe, then it focuses on the Pacific Theater.  

You can view the original newsreel at:

One evening the parents of Dale Louis Shebilsky decided to go to the theater. Heavy hearted having lost their young son, who was listed as missing in action and assumed dead. As they watched the reel to the end, the film alternated between short clips of different military units saluting and a waving American flag.  In the middle of the singing and much to their surprise, at about 8 minutes and 40 seconds into the film, they saw their son, Dale Shebilsky saluting - first with another airman standing in front of their B-24, and  then a closeup of Dale by himself.  You can imagine their cheers at seeing this footage of their son, larger than life on the movie screen.

What they did not know is that Dale's crew had been shot down during the last mission flown by the 256th Bomb Group in Europe.  He was hit by flak, so while the underground smuggled most of his crew out, they could not take him. They instructed Dale to give himself up to a nearby Russian unit and have them turn him over to the American Consulate. He located the unit, but they took one look at Dale's blonde hair and blue eyes and put him into a POW camp with German prisoners, torturing him for German intelligence. When the Russian Army was finally convinced that Dale was in fact an American, they then tortured him for American intelligence.

After VE day, the Russians released him to the American Consulate, with a warning that he was to say nothing of his treatment at their hands.  After treatment of his injuries and a military debriefing, Dale was reunited with his family and remained stateside for the remainder of the war.

Dale Louis Shebilsky, served in World War II flying 33 combat missions. He learned and operated radar equipment and served as a Radio Operator. He also served in the Korean War. He later became a Colonel with the Commemorative Air Force, a member of CAF Airbase Arizona and was my father-in-law. He passed away on July 19, 2014.

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