Bronx Bomber’s Bagels Bombard Berlin

Private Sidney Katz missed the Bronx. “My sister Libby would send me the best things, things we couldn’t get in the service. I would get candy, peanuts, sardines, pickles, you name it,” Katz remembered. The monthly packages made World War II a little more bearable, but there was still one thing he missed. “I remember thinking how much I would love a bagel. I hadn’t had one in over a year,” the Bronx native said. Two weeks later, he got a letter from his sister Libby, who still lived in the old neighborhood. She had sent the bagels from his favorite Bronx deli, but she warned that they would be rock hard by the time he got them in Rackheath, England. Katz, then 20, received the package, and he and the rest of the 467th Bomb Group was alerted to fly the next day. Their target: The Big B. Berlin, Germany. His mission was clear and concise: to bomb the targets and come back in one piece. An average bombing mission consisted of more than four tons of bombs and about 10 men in each plane. Bombing the heavily protected Berlin was the most important mission during that part of the war. As Katz got ready that day to go on assignment, he threw the bagels in his pocket. He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d do with the stale bagels, but he had a long flight to figure it out. “I got over Germany and had this crazy thought,” Katz said. Thinking about all those Nazis down there had an effect on Katz, who was Jewish. Soldiers were always trying to think of creative new ways to help the war effort. Somewhere over Berlin, as the bombay doors opened, the bagels were drafted. “I reached in my pocket, grabbed the bagels and dropped them over Berlin”. Katz got back safely that evening. He told all of his friends the story. They all laughed and celebrated a successful raid and a safe return. He then sat down to write Libby a letter. He thanked her for the bagels and told her if she was wondering what he had done with the rock hard bagels, they had been put to good use. Katz hoped that those hard bagels falling thousands of feet might somehow accelerate an end to the war and his return to his family, the Bronx and its fresh bagels. In October of 1945 Katz was discharged and sent home. During his time in the military, he received numerous awards and medals. Katz was awarded five battle stars and ran Air Medal with five oak leave clusters. To this day Katz has saved every newspaper clipping of all the air raids he went on. He has every mission documented. After all of those missions, to this day, one of his fondest memories from the war came the day that a couple of bagels from the Bronx bombed Berlin. Every time Katz bites into a bagel now, it reminds him of the way that this young Jewish kid from the Bronx personally attacked Germany. To this day, a bagel is not just a bagel to Sidney Katz.

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