Set within the framework of World War II in Europe, Shot Down tells the true story about the dramatic experiences of each member of a ten man B-17 bomber crew, piloted by the author's father, after their plane was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgium border in 1944. Their individual stories and those of the many courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help them are all different and are all remarkable.

Shot Down is about author Steve Snyder’s father, Howard Snyder, the ten man crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth, and the unique experiences of each man after their plane was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgium border on February 8, 1944.  Some men died. Some were captured and became prisoners of war. Some evaded the Germans for awhile but were betrayed, captured, and shot. Some men evaded capture and were missing in action for seven months. The stories are all different and are all remarkable.

Through personal letters, oral and written accounts, military records, and interviews – all from people who took part of the events that happened 70 years ago, the stories of the crewmen come alive. Further enhancing their stories are more than 200 time period photographs of the people who were involved and the places where the events took place.

Even before the dramatic battle in the air and the subsequent harrowing events on the ground, the story is informative, insightful, and captivating.  Prior to the fateful event on February 8, the book covers the men’s training, their journey to England, life while stationed there, and numerous combat missions.  Everything is centered around the 306th Bomb Group stationed at Thurleigh, England of which the crew of the Susan Ruth was a part.

To add background and context, many historical facts about the war are entwined throughout the book so that the reader has a feel for and understanding of what was occurring on a broader scale.  Thus, it is a fascinating account about brave individuals, featuring pilot Howard Snyder, set within the compelling events of the war in Europe. You will be given an insider’s seat to the drama surrounding a remarkable group of young airmen and the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help them.

In 1989, a memorial to the crew of the Susan Ruth was dedicated at Macquenoise, Belgium and every year celebrations are held to honor and remember the men who are now all gone but not forgotten. It’s Our Duty To Remember.

To learn more, go to the book website at

Praise for Shot Down

  • Publishers Weekly.- A great introduction to the history of the U.S. air war in Europe, humanized by the experience of a single bomber crew. -- BookLife
  • Foreword Clarion Review 5 star Rating.- Snyder’s masterful book puts the reader inside the cockpit, shoulder to shoulder with the pilot and crew. Accessible and relevant both to historians and readers with a casual interest in WWII history, Shot Down a must-read for anyone with an interest in this gripping period of American history. – Claire Foster
  • BlueInk Starred Review.- Highly recommended for historians and WWII aviation buffs, it’s a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile read. Extensively researched, packed with photographs, and neatly interwoven with background remarks, this highly engaging book offers a comprehensive, yet personalized portrait of a war.
  • War History Online.- A masterful work. Enjoyable for those interested in the Eight Air Force and/or the B-17 Flying Fortress, but it is also broad enough to appeal to general history readers. Insightful, engrossing, and succeeds on every level. Bravo. – Nate Sullivan
  • World War II Today.- A magnificent job. Readily accessible to anyone not familiar with the bomber war in Europe, but also much to interest those whose real passion is wartime aviation. -- Martin Cherret


  • A wonderful read and compelling story of our B-17 aircrews that flew, fought, and died over Europe to save a continent from tyranny and oppression. Gives a great sense of the heroes that made up the “Greatest Generation.” —  General Duncan J. McNabb, USAF, retired 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  • Snyder has reached a level of scholarship few amateur historians achieve. A story that all young Americans should read. — Vernon L. Williams, Ph.D., Director East Anglia Air War Archives
  • A great example of young men from the greatest generation fighting to defend the cause their country asked them to. — Chris M. Kuester, Lt Col, USAF Commander, 424th Air Base Squadron Chievres, Belgium
  • We organize an annual ceremony at a memorial in memory of the B17 Susan Ruth crew members honoring the memory of those who crashed in Belgium on February 8, 1944. The local population still remembers the heroes who crossed the ocean to come and help people who were totally unknown to them, to free them and to restore their honor and happiness. They gave their lives and we will be eternally grateful to them for their sacrifice. We will always remember these men as heroes of our freedom. Thank you. We will never forget you. — Christel Delahaye, President Association du Devoir de Mémoire de Momignies ‒ Belgique

It has won 9 books awards:

  • 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Winner Military
  • 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Finalist Historical Non-fiction
  • 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards - Silver Medalist History (U.S.)
  • 2015 International Book Awards - Winner History: General
  • 2015 NABE Spring Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards - Best Books Military
  • 2014 Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards - Finalist War & Military 
  • 2014 USA Best Book Awards - Finalist History: General 
  • 2014 USA Best Book Awards - Finalist History: Military 
  • 2014 Southern California Book Festival - Honorable Mention General Non-Fiction

SHOT DOWN has a 4.9 reader review rating on Amazon at It is also available at Barnes & Noble


Content and pictures sent to by Steve Snyder

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