World War II Pilots

During Operation Market Garden hundred of pilots filled the skies. The Allies needed men on the ground to help support the invasion and the German’s needed to defend its territory at all costs. Many lives were lost that day, but the courage and effort by the Allied forces eventually led to the end of World War II in Europe and victory for the Allies.

The Luck of the Draw captures the lives of three men on September 17, 1944.
Two who were in direct combat with each other and the other an aerial photography-gunner during the mission.

World War II Pilot - Lt. William R. Beyer
Lt. William R. Beyer

Born July 5, 1923
Enlisted US Army Air Corps in 1942. He began training as a glider pilot and soon had the opportunity to become a fighter pilot. Lt. Beyer was a member of the 361st Fighter Group’s 376 Squadron. Beyer would return to the States with 9 confirmed kills and 87 combat missions.

Major Klaus Mietusch - World War II German Ace
Major Klaus Mietusch
Mietusch joined the Geschwader in 1938, in his years of service he flew 453 missions and made 72 kills. During this time Mietusch was shot down 10 times and was wounded four, but never turned down a mission.


Lt. John L. Lowden - WWII Aerial Photography-Gunner
Lt. John L. Lowden
Born October 29, 1921
Enlisted US Army Air Corps in 1941. His first assignment was that of an apprentice aerial photography-gunner. His missions included Operation Market-Garden, invasion of Holland, and Operation Varsity among others. He has written about his experiences in the book “Silent Wings At War: Combat Gliders in World War II“.


We are sad to report that Lt. Beyer and Lt. Lowden have passed away, but honored that both have signed and been part of this project. We thank them for their service to our country and their bravery.

During World War II the life of a pilot was precarious as attack came from the ground as well as the air. The US lost 23,000 planes in combat and from 1942 til the end of the war we lost 170 per day. These brave men risked their lives to fly into enemy territory to defeat the enemy. The Luck of the Draw honors the courage of these men and their sacrifice.