Ervin “Cheezy” Sabel was born on February 22nd, 1923, in Chilton, Wisconsin. Sabel enlisted in the army at the outbreak of World War II, joining the 570th Bomb Squadron in the Army Air Corps.1 This squad was one of the original four squadrons of the 390th Bombardment group. The Squadron was first activated at Geiger Field in Washington in January, 1943. The group went to the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics at Orlando Army Base for advanced training, where the squadron trained heavily with the B-17 bomber plane. These planes were a fortress in the skies, and could be very unsafe for the fighters at times.
The squadron shipped off for Europe in July of 1943. Arriving in Germany, the squadron made their combat station at RAF Framlingham. The squadron proved to be a formidable force. During missions, the B-17 bombers needed to be escorted by fighter piliots for protection. The bombing had to be precise from thousands of feet in the air. The men were awarded their first distinguished unit citation after their attack on the Messerschmidt factory at Regensburg. This citation is given to units who show heroic action during battle. On route to Regensburg, half of the squadron’s protection missed the rendezvous. This left the squadron with very little protection from German interceptors. Battling bullets from German planes, the 570th Bomb Squadron completed their mission with the best bombing results they had ever produced, even with only half of their squad in action.
The 570th Bomb Squadron won another distinguished unit citation at Schweinfurt. The squadron carried out an attack on the ball bearing factories in the city. The squad went through unrelenting attacks from German fighter pilots. Even so, the squadron had the highest percentage of accuracy out of all the involved units.
On November 30, 1943, SSGT Sabel’s B-17 bomber took enemy flak and crash-landed. Six of the nine crew bailed out, but three crewmen went down with the plane. Sabel was captured and held by the Germans at Dulag-Luft West.3
German prison camps were incredibly difficult for the prisoners. They were sent to work in harsh conditions with little food. Sabel survived and returned home where he married Mary Hoffman on May 18th, 1946. Sabel also became a member of many different groups after the war: he was a part of the 390th Bomber Group, the Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Sabel worked at Borden’s Dairy in Watertown, New York for forty years.4
4 National Archives Veterans’ Service Records