Treasured Piece of History

By Amelia Bartolotta

September 2015

My paternal grandfather, Federico Gonzales, was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in World War II. His plane was shot down over Germany and he was the lone survivor. (The plane fell from 27,000 feet!) He was taken as a prisoner of war, and he met another prisoner in the camp who was a very talented metalworker.

The Germans had salvaged scrap metal from the plane my grandfather was flying. The metalworker had gotten some of this metal, a hydraulic line, I believe, and was making rings out of the metal in exchange for food and other things.

My grandfather traded this man two cigarettes to have two rings made, one for my grandmother (who is still alive -- she is 94) and one for my grandfather (who passed away in 2006). The rings had each of their initials engraved on them.

I wear my grandmother's ring, and my uncle has my grandfather's ring. So I have a piece of Boeing's history on my finger, something beautiful that came out of a terrible war.

My grandmother's ring.

Amelia Bartolotta