He craned his neck and yelled back for his top gunner, screamed at him to get up in his turret and shoot this guy out of the sky. Before Brown’s gunner could squeeze off his first round, the German did something even weirder: He looked Brown in the eye and gave him a salute. Then he peeled away.
“Good luck,” he’d said to Brown from his cockpit. “You’re in God’s hands.”
The two men, in many ways, had parallel lives. Stigler had one daughter; Brown, two. Both were Christians, and in combat, Stigler kept rosary beads in his left pocket, the paint stripped bare from terror. Brown flew with a Bible in his pocket, and in moments of extreme fear he’d pat it “so that my prayers would beam up faster.”