collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I
If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of
kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that
come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if
Lt. George Lesko Cleveland, OH
446th Bomb Group
Co-pilot of B-24 - "Ginger"
Stalag Luft I, North II Compound.
It is with a very heavy heart that I tell
you that Col. George Lesko passed away on June 30, 2008. He was
the best! I will miss him terribly. Rest in peace my friend.
George was shot down on August 26, 1944 on a bombing mission to
Ludwigshaven, Germany. In August, 1998, the French village of
Schoeneck, France, where "Ginger" crashed, erected a granite
monument to honor George and his crew for their efforts to liberate
France. It was around this time that George learned that four of his
crewmembers had been executed by the SS shortly after bailing out of
their plane in 1944. The SS men responsible for this were tried in
the Nuremburg process at the end of the war. They were convicted
and sentenced to death by hanging.
George remained in the Air Force and retired as a
Colonel at Whiteman AFB in Knob Foster, MO. During his service he
received recognition as an Air Force Command Pilot and was
awarded membership in the B- 47 1000 hour club. He also received the
highest grade average in the Air Training Command Missile Supervisors and
Planning course. George was awarded the Air , Purple Heart,
Congressional Prisoner of War, WWII Victory Medal, three Theatre of Operations,
Germany Occupation, and Good Conduct Medals.
In 1992 he moved
to Lee's Summit, MO where his son, daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren
live. Currently his business card reads that he is a board member of
"Livewell, Dolittle and Sitmore".
On March 11, 1999
the House of Representatives of the State of Missouri issued House
Resolution No. 378 honoring George Lesko for his lifetime achievements.
George was with the group of former POWs to return to Barth, Germany in
April 2000 and at that time he fulfilled a wish he had made to himself on
that day in May 1945, when he was flown out of Barth. That wish was
to pilot a plane back into Barth one day. See photo below.
George landing plane in Barth - April 18, 2000!
Click here to read newspaper account of the village of Schoeneck,
France honoring George and his surviving crew in August 1998.
The Crew of "Ginger"
1/Lt. Ralph V.
Schaffer --------- KIA
2/Lt. George Lesko -------------- POW
F/O Norman Phillips ----------- POW
Sgt. Jack W. Staton ------------ KIA
T/Sgt. Charles E. Wyatt ---------- KIA
S/Sgt. Frank W. Loichinger ---- MIA
Sgt. Albert H. Lang ------------- POW
Sgt. Ted Zemonek -------------- KIA
Pvt. Jack A. Maxwell ----------- KIA
Sgt. Willard R. Fetterhof ----- KIA
As heroes who risked their lives in the liberation of France, Phillips,
Lesko, and Lang rode in the 1940 LaSalle that the American Embassy owned
in the 1940's, and were treated like royalty by the French citizens of
"Ginger" crewmembers, Norman Phillips, George Lesko and Al Lang together