Queens resident and military veteran Joe Reveman’s experiences during World War II are forever memorialized in a biographical film depicting his life as an active member of the United States Armed Forces.
Filming began almost two years ago when Reveman’s nephew, Bryant Falk, proposed the idea for a documentary. Falk always enjoyed hearing his uncle’s stories depicting his days in the Army. Having previous experience as a commercial film director, Falk saw this as a great chance to make his first documentary-style movie.
Reveman was drafted to be a pilot in the Air Force of the United States Army in 1943
“I was young, 18. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t have much of a choice,” said Reveman. “When I got to England I was apprehensive, but I was glad to help at the end of the war.”
As the war continued, Reveman became a radio operator onboard B17 Bomber planes. Their mission was to obliterate the German air and railroad supply.
He flew 24 missions over Germany. His last mission took place on Friday, April 13, 1945.
“It’s a date that will live in infamy in my mind,” said Reveman.
Flying in formation, the planes prepared to release their bombs over Germany. One plane’s bomb release malfunctioned and several bombs dropped at the same time, striking each other and exploding. Reveman’s plane lost control.
The pilot regained control of the plane and they began to gradually descend over the border between England and German-occupied territory. Unsure of which side they would touch down on, the crew prepared for a wheels-up landing.
But as the wheels touched ground, they struck a slab of marble, slicing the plane in half.
When Reveman regained consciousness, he crawled from the crushed aluminum.
“I saw blue skies,” he said.
Trucks appeared in the distance. Still unsure of his location, Reveman hoped the approaching vehicles were those of the Allied Forces. A Red Cross ambulance with a United States insignia pulled up next to the destroyed plane.
“Everyone breathed a little easier,” said Reveman.
The line where Reveman crashed had been occupied by American forces only a few days prior. Two weeks later, the war ended.
Reveman received a Purple Heart award and five air medals, one medal for every five missions he flew.