Cottrell, Edwin

Edwin Cottrell was born January 17, 1922 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  His parents moved to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania the next year though, and that is where he grew up.  Edwin remembers a good childhood – and one where he played all kinds of sports.  His father – a Great War veteran –  worked at the local college and kept his job through the difficult days of the Depression:  the family did not prosper, but they were able to get by.  Edwin had some awareness of the war in Europe, and he recalls studying it when he was enrolled at college.  December 7, 1941 would prove to be the turning point for his generation of Americans though:  Pearl Harbor was attacked, and they were about to be pulled into the war.  Edwin was interested in the navy, but as he had taken part in the Civilian Pilot Training Program he ultimately opted to join the U.S. Army Air Corps.  At first he was permitted to stay in college, while the Air Corps ramped up its program.  They did call him soon, and Edwin embarked on a training program that took him from Florida to Wisconsin to Arizona to California, and along the way he got married before he reported to Wendover Field for transition training.  Then the cross country journey began again, and it ended with Edwin boarding the Ile de France and heading overseas.  He landed in England but was quickly shipped over to France, where he joined the 48th Fighter Group, and then the 493rd Squadron; Edwin became acquainted with the P-47 Thunderbolt, and in short order he was flying missions in support of the advancing Allied armies.  Edwin recalls that most missions were flown at low altitude, strafing and bombing military targets such as tanks and supply trains.  The missions were dangerous, and the 493rd lost many pilots to flak and fighters.  As 1944 came to a close, Edwin was involved in the Battle of the Bulge; there were a number of intense engagements during that time.  Edwin lost a number of fellow pilots, and he was almost shot down himself, but was instead miraculously spared by two German Me-109 pilots who chose to guide him towards friendly territory rather than shooting him down.  The 493rd received many decorations for their role in that part of the war, and they continued their pursuit of the Germans into Germany itself, and when the war ended Edwin was in Nuremberg, with 64 missions under his belt.   His CO put him up for one last flight; now at 65 missions Edwin qualified to go home.  He returned to his young wife and daughter, and began the process of being a civilian again, looking for work, and readjusting.  Crestwood students were able to have a zoom interview with Edwin Cottrell on May 27, 2023.