Reckless Ace


The airplane would have bumped and jerked as it was hit with anti-aircraft fire. Enemy planes had been scrambled and were forming up to try to shoot him down. In spite of this, Oswald Boelke (pictured above) kept flying towards the enemy lines.

It was WWI, and Oswald Boelke was one of German’s top aces. However this particular mission wasn’t one of war, but one of honor. He was not there that day to deliver bombs or bullets, but rather a letter.

Oswald Boelke was being Reckless.

Days before he had been in a dogfight with two British airmen: Lt William E Somervill and Lt Geoffrey C Formilli. They were trying desperately not to be shot down by one Boelke, who by the time of his own death would have shot down 25 planes. His name was spoken in hushed tones on British airbases. He even mentored Manfred von Richthofen, the famous “Red Baron”.  To get in a dogfight with the man was usually a one way ticket to the ground the hard way.

Somervill and Formilli’s plane after it crashed.

On this day Boelke won again, damaging the British plane to the point it had to crash land in a field. The German landed nearby and found that the two British airmen were wounded, but very much alive. He walked up to his adversaries and exclaimed that he was glad to have brought them down alive. He then made sure that they were taken off to a nearby hospital to have their wounds cared for.

As if that wasn’t enough, Boelke did something crazy. He took letters from the downed airmen, and was so intent on making sure their families knew they were OK, he flew over enemy lines to deliver the messages. His plane took heavy gunfire and other planes chased him, but he managed to drop the message and get home alive.

A soldier who witnessed the act later wrote:

 The German machine very sportingly held on through heavy shell fire from us and the French and was chased by several of our machines and had to run a hot gauntlet on its errand but it escaped alright.

How often are we hesitant to help someone if to go out of our way means an inconvenience to us? Here is a man who faced death, to let the parents and friends of his enemies know that they were alright.

That’s Reckless.