Leroy Nayes, Escape and Evasion

Leroy Milton Nayes was born at Fingal North Dakota in 1923.
LeRoy attended rural school and graduated from Fingal High in 1941 and started school that fall at the Agricultural College in Fargo.  In December 1942, he entered the Army Air Force and received his Officers commission as a 2nd Lt. in 1944 and shortly after joined the 15th Air Force in Italy as a Navigator-Bombardier on B-24 heavy bombers.  On December 14th 1944, while on a bombing mission to Linz, Austria, Nayes’ plane was struck by anti-aircraft fire and 2 of the 4 engines were knocked out.  The crew had to bail out over enemy territory in northern Yugoslavia and landed in the Sava river.  Several of the crew unfortunately drowned but Nayes and 3 others were picked up by Yugoslavian civilians on a raft and stayed with them for 6 days.
They were able to contact the anti-German partisan forces led by Josep Broz Tito and evaded the Germans for the next month. On Christmas morning, LeRoy awoke to what he thought was gunfire and thought they were being attacked by German forces.  Unknown to Nayes, the Yugoslavs celebrated Christmas with fireworks, much like we do on the 4th of July.   Nayes and the rest of his crew, protected by the partisans, finally made their way to an emergency air strip in late January 1945.  They were flown back to Italy on a C-47 where LeRoy spent time recuperating in a hospital.  Nayes made it back to his base and flew 12 more missions before the war ended in Europe.  The last several missions they did not carry bombs but dropped food and supplies into German POW camps.  Nayes was finally discharged from the Air Force in December of 1945.
LeRoy came back to North Dakota, went back to school in Fargo and graduated with a batchelor of science degree in agriculture.  He married, started a family and began farming near McClusky until 1954 when they returned to a farm near Fingal.
In 1956 LeRoy was recruited to work for the Farmers Home Administration of the USDA which began a 27 year career administrating loans to farmers in North Dakota.  He was the head of the Farm Loan Division for 10 years until he retired in 1983.
LeRoy Nayes passed away on March 23, 2014