WWII Veteran Meets Rescuers Son

Jun 9, 2011 8:42 PM

Erwin Peters, German fisherman's son says, "My father brought him back to life." John Russell, World War II Veteran says, "I've thanked him, and thanked him, and thanked him.."

John Russell is a World War Two veteran from Redding. who says he owes everything to a man he knows only as the 'German fisherman who saved his life'.. Thursday.. So many answers, to the questions he's been asking for decades. Russell came face to face with the son of the German fisherman who plucked him from the water back in 1944.. John says, "Almost overwhelming, but it's a wonderful thing in my life."

The fisherman spoke all his life about meeting Russell. And when he passed away, his son made it his own personal mission to find him. Erwin says, "This story is a really big part of the whole family history."

On April 11, 1944 Russell was shot down in his B17 Bomber. He was able to parachute out..And that's the last thing he remembers. Friedrich Franz was fishing off the northern shore when he saw four American soldiers plunging into the water. Fishing boats nearby found one of the men, but gave up looking for the others. But Franz kept on searching. He had travelled 7 miles South when he saw something floating in the water.. That something was John Russell.. John says he's so thankful for that moment.. "We've just been counting my children and grandchildren," John says.

Russell had been in the water for nearly 2 hours and was unconscious... Franz pulled him in, and started CPR immediately.. He then rushed him back to shore for medical attention and took him to the customs office.. Where a German customs officer questioned him for saving the enemy.. "They asked the fisherman why he didn't leave him in the water and he said I'm a human being, I'm with Christ, and I will help everyone out in this situation," Erwin says.

And now sixty-seven years later, Russell is able to meet and thank the son of the man he has always called his hero.. John says, "Incredible is the word."

Friends and family, several members of the local POW organization and the Patriot Guard.. All showed up to honor and support these two amazing men. A documentary is now being shot about this incredible story.


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