Ernest Thorp grew up in Illinois with two passions - farming and flying. He earned a pilot's license while in college, and enlisted into the Army Air Force in May of 1942. Thorp was assigned to the 729th Squadron, 452nd Bomb Group, and flew missions as a B-17 co-pilot over northern Europe. He was shot down on August 4th while on his eighteenth mission. He bailed out over the North Sea, was pulled out of the water by German fishermen, and spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War, moving from camp to camp as Germany was nearing defeat.