Today’s Illustration: A Change Of Plans & Life Changes Dramatically!

Who: Adam Makos

  • Born in 1981 & raised in rural Pennsylvania — Williamsport, PA
  • Present-day Journalistic, Writer, Novelist, Historian, and Author
  • Author of “A Higher Call

“On DECEMBER to, 1943, in the midst of World War II, an era of pain, over Northern Germany. An American bomber crew was limping bombing Germany. A Ger- man fighter pilot in his Bf-109 fighter encountered them. They were enemies, sworn to shoot one another from the sky. Yet what transpired between the fighter pilot and the bomber crewmen that day, and how the story played out decades later, defies imagination. It had never happened before and it has not happened since. What occurred, in most general terms, may well be one of the most remarkable stories in the history of warfare.

As remarkable as it is, it’s a story I never wanted to tell.” [1]

  • Authored, “Spearhead,” 2019, and which was on #1 on New York Times bestseller list one week after publication [2]
  • Interested in WWII and aviation as he grew up and listened to his grandfather tell stories from WWII
  • Age 15, with his siblings and best friend, started a neighborhood newsletter, writing about WWII and  aviation
  • Age 16 — summer after his freshman year in high school, his neighbor, classmates, and teacher were killed aboard TWA flight 800 [3]
  • Sixteen of my schoolmates and my favorite teacher were traveling to France aboard a 747 jetliner. They were all members of the school French Club. Their plane exploded, midair, off the coast of Long Island.” [1]

  • He was supposed to be on that plane, but circumstances changed his plans.

I had planned to be with them. I had initially signed up for the trip but faced a tough choice.  My mom had sold enough Pampered Chef products in her part-time job to earn a vacation for our family to Disney World.  The only catch was that the Disney trip was the same week as the school trip to France. I chose Disney with my family.  I was in Disney when the USA Today newspaper appeared on the floor outside our hotel to announce the crash, 230 deaths, and the first reference to a shattered small Pennsylvania town. When I returned home, my parents’ answering machine was full of condolences. In their haste to identify who had gone with the French Club, someone had posted the roster of the students who had initially signed up for the trip to France, and my name was there.” 

The funerals were tragic. When school resumed, my neighbor Monica was missing from the bus stop.  Jessica always boarded the bus before us, but she was gone. My best friend among any and all girls, Claire, no longer sat next to me in class. And Mrs. Dickey no longer led the lessons. She was a great lady, a lot like Paula Dean, the jovial Southern TV chef. When we picked our adopted French names that we would be called during class hours, I had picked “Fabio.” It wasn’t even French. But it was funny and Mrs. Dickey let me keep it. That’s the kind of lady she was.

Flight 8oo taught me that life is precious because it is fragile. I can’t say I woke up one day and started living passionately and working faster to make some impact on the world. It never happens in an instant. But looking back, I see that it happened gradually. By the end of high school, my siblings, friend, and I had turned our hand-stapled newsletter into a neatly bound magazine with a circulation of seven thousand copies. While our friends were at football games and parties, we were out interviewing WWII veterans.” [1]

When: July 17, 1996

Where: New York

* Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA800)
* Boeing 747
* From JFK International Airport
* To France
* 230 people on board died 
* Third deadliest crash in aviation history
* Probable cause was the explosion of flammable fuel vapors in the center fuel tanks


Other Information & Links:

  • Adam and his partners continued the magazine into college — “Valor.”
  • They “interviewed fighter pilots, bomber gunners, transport crewmen, and anyone who flew.”
  • Over time, they gained significant recognition from people like Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and James Cameron
  • “After college, we worked for our magazine full-time.  We worked faster and harder because we knew the WWII veterans were fading away.”

1.  “A Higher Call, by Adam Makos — pgs. 1-4

2. Introduction to Spearhead, Adam Makos

“Clarence welcomed me inside with a chuckle and pulled up a chair for me at his kitchen table. There, l’d make a discovery.
lt was true. All of it.
This gentle giant held the keys to one of the last great untold stories of World War II, and he was ready to talk. . . .

In a few short pages you’ll find yourself behind enemy lines with the 3rd Armored Division, a “workhorse unit,” one of the “most aggressive” American divisions, and arguably the best in the armor business.
Even General Omar Bradley saw something special in Clarence and his comrades. When asked to gauge the personality of his units, Bradley wrote that Patton’s tankers adopted his “Hair” Simpson’s in the Ninth Army were known for their “breeziness.” And the 3rd Ar- muted’ They led the fighting march across Europe “with a serious and grim intensity.”



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