Originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Frank Speer enlisted
in the Army Air Corps in 1941 and graduated from flight school
in class 43-I. In March 1944, Speer was assigned to the 4th
Fighter Group (formerly the Eagle Squadrons), where
he soon became an ace.
He was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Air Medal
with Three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Presidential Unit Citation.
While flying a P-51 Mustang near Poland, Speer was shot
down and walked nearly 400 miles across northern Germany
in an attempt to reach Denmark. He was captured after collapsing
from exhaustion and lack of food.
Speer served 11 months in three different stalags, including
being forced to participate in the “Death March” to
Nuremberg. His third escape attempt was successful and, with
help from group of French forced laborers, Speer and a friend
captured 24 German soldiers and an officer.
He was discharged in 1946, but continued to serve in the
Air Force Reserve until 1955. As a civilian, Speer has been
a telephone engineer, an entrepreneur, a food service company
manager and a real estate agent. He and his wife raised five
Speer is the author of three books about the 4th Fighter
Group in World War II, including Wingman, The
Debden Warbirds and One Down, One Dead. He
is active in veterans’ organizations and in speaking
to schools, libraries and civic organizations.
He was a featured speaker for an Ohio school district
and also addressed the Cadet Corps of the Valley Forge Military
Academy. Speer has also been featured in the Reading Air Show
briefing room and the Wings Over Frederick Air Show.