Vit Angetter

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Vít Angetter
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..*  25 February 1921
†  24 October 2009
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Vít Angetter, was a man who fought as a pilot not only in WWII
 but also, as one of the very few, in the so called Third Resistance, 
i.e. in the Cold War. He was also the last living pilot from the
 world-famous defection (or hijack) of three Czechoslovak State
 Airline aircraft’s to Bavarian Erding and one of a handful of
 Czechs who had served as CIA pilots during the Cold War.

Angetter was born 25 February 1921 at Přáslavice in the Olomouc district of Czechoslovakia. He started his military career shortly after his nineteenth 
birthday in March 1940 when he joined the Czechoslovak
 Air Force in Agde (France), having fled German occupied Czechoslovakia in
 a single-handed and very adventurous escape via Austria, Yugoslavia,
 Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Three months later 
he left defeated France aboard a ship to England.

He joined the
 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and for the first two years of
 his UK service – from July 1940 to May 1942 – he served as a aircraft
 fitter in No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Fighter Squadron, which 
had shortly after its formation successfully participated in the 
Battle of Britain. Eventually, he managed to obtain a leave 
to participate in a fighter pilot training, which he underwent 
in Canada and Britain. From May 1944 to April 1945 he then
 fought as a fighter pilot in No. 312 (Czechoslovak) Fighter
 Squadron. In its ranks, he distinguished himself during the Allied 
invasion in Normandy, low-level ground attacks in Holland
 as well as long-range escort duties over Germany.

After the end of War he returned to his country in August 1945
 and until October 1947 he then served as a Czechoslovak Air Force
 officer in the roles of fighter pilot and flying instructor. Subsequently
 he got a pilot job at Československé Státní Aerolinie [ČSA the Czechoslovak State Airlines].
 In contrast to the sweeping purges in the Czechoslovak Army,
 the repercussions of the February 1948 impacted, at least initially,
 only individual cases from the ranks of former RAF pilots in
service of ČSA.

In the following two years, until March 24, 1950,
 the company dismissed “only” 26 of them. The problem was that 
those who remained continued to constitute the most numerous 
and, more importantly, the most experienced part of the 
ČSA‘s flying staff. The airlines management therefore at least
 started shifting them from international to domestic flights,
 while conducting intensive training of new pilots who were
 deemed as politically more reliable.

In this situation it became 
clear that sooner or later even the remaining RAF pilots would
 be forced to leave their beloved profession. One of the consequences
of this anticipated fate was a unique getaway over the
 Iron Curtain, a coordinated multiple defection or hijack of three
 ČSA airplanes flown by (former) RAF pilots now employed by 
ČSA. The event took place on March 24, 1950 when three Douglas
 C-47 Skytrain (Dakota DC3) airliners took off from Brno, Ostrava
 and Bratislava but instead of their Prague destination landed at 
Erding airport near Munich in West Germany.

The outcome of the brilliantly executed plan for the Communist
 regime was rather pathetic. Although only a small part of the 85 persons on board of the three planes knew about the
 plan, a total of 27 of them remained abroad and 58 returned 
to Czechoslovakia. Some of those who had for personal reasons 
returned to their country later again escaped behind the 
Iron Curtain. The event was met with huge response on both
 sides of the Iron Curtain. Although the communist Czechoslovakia 
requested extradition of the hijackers “as common criminals,”
 no one was extradited. Moreover, the entire operation 
had a positive impact on the upcoming US Senate discussion
 of the reform of the legislature governing the settling of the
 refugees from communist countries (Displaced Persons Act).
 The Communist regime had to settle for dismissing the remaining
 RAF pilots from ČSA even at a price of cuts in air traffic.

Nonetheless, it is indisputable that the multiple hijack did
 not cause but merely hastened this process. The hijack ringleaders 
were sentenced in absentia to “the most severe penalties,”
 while each of the passengers who had failed to return
 received a 25 year prison sentence.
 In contrast to the majority of other refugees who wished
 to settle in Britain, Vít Angetter opted for the USA where he
 wanted to actively fight against communism.

He signed a two 
year service contract with USAF. As an experienced pilot he 
initially wished to volunteer for service in Korea but the Americans 
offered him another position on the front against communism.
 He stayed in West Germany and until 1952 he served 
at the bases in Mildenheim, Munich-Riem and Wiesbaden. Behind 
the controls of C-47 aircraft he took part in an extremely
 demanding and risky CIA aerial operation Rollback – Sedsox.
 During this operation he flew on secret missions above 
the USSR territory – specifically above Russia, Ukraine, Estonia,
 Latvia and Lithuania. He was delivering  paratroopers charged
 with conducting intelligence, sabotage and organisational
 activities.

Angetter decided to sign up for the above described CIA
 work primarily because of the promise that the Agency would 
help him land a civilian airline pilot job upon the expiration of
 his contract. Nonetheless, in October 1952 when together with
 his wife he arrived to the shores of the New World, he did not
 get the promised airline pilot job because of a US citizenship 
requirement (he obtained his citizenship only in 1959).

Therefore 
he started working in a civilian sector as a turner, which 
was his original vocation. Between 1953 and 1962 he worked
 for Mikromat company first in New York and later in New
 Jersey. He started working as a turner and gradually worked
 his way up to the position of production supervisor. After he
 had saved some money, he went independent. During the next
 24 years, i.e. from 1963 until 1987, owned a New Jersey firm
 Matric Manufacturing Co. where he had twelve employees.

After
 his wife fell ill in 1987, they sold the firm and retired to 
Prescott, Arizona.
 After November 1989 he first received back his Lieutenant
 rank, of which he had been stripped in September 1950 by the
 decision of the Communist minister JUDr. Alexej Čepička and
subsequently, in September 1991, forty one years after his degradation,
 was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel 
(retired)  as a part of the general rehabilitation of Western
 airmen.

After short illness he died on 24 October 2009 at Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

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© PhDr. Jiří Rajlich

 

 

This entry was posted in 312 Sqd, Biography, Into exile. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Vit Angetter

  1. Mary F. Marshall says:

    My father, Joseph Scott Peddie, USAF, operated a CIA operation out of Wiesbaden from 1951-1954. He recruited both pilots/crew and agents from Poles, Czechs, Albanians, etc. – anyone who hated the Russians. His low flying, unmarked planes dropped agents behind the Iron Curtain.
    Intelligence work at that time was a small world and I wonder if Vit Angetter and my father ever crossed paths!

    • Franek Grabowski says:

      Hi
      I guess he knew Col. Rudkowski, who was personally responsible for recruiting Polish aircrew in London. Quite a bunch of interesting pilots went there. Do you have any details of your father service at Wiesbaden? I guess he used a covert name, when in touch with those airmen.

  2. Natasha Angetter says:

    He was my grandfather and I never had the chance to meet him. If anyone has any more information on his life it would be greatly appreciated.
    His only son Vladimir, my father passed away also in 2003.

    • Lucie Barinkova says:

      he is my granduncle. my father just send me this article today. I have been living in california since 2007. My family also escaped to western europe in May 1989. I am the only family member that made it to the USA.

    • Franek Grabowski says:

      Hi
      I am researching the history of the exile airmen, who flew covert missions in 1950s. I have very limited information on your grandfather, mostly based on elimination of what missions he could not fly. I understand he flew six times, initially with a Czech crew, and then with mixed nationalities. I wonder, what happened to his documents. Some pilots kept their log books, and they are great source of information.
      Not sure, how to contact off line, here.

    • Zdenek Neoral says:

      Hi Natasha, please send me contact to you. I think that I have information about your grandfather. My grandmother was Marie Angetter and she was Vit sester. Zdenek

    • Vlastimil Janouš says:

      Hi Natasha, I would like to contact you, because I met Vit Angetter in military service in Czechoslovakia during years 1946 and 1947. We also spoke together in 1964 in New York and until 80’s we were in touch by letters.

    • Lenka says:

      Hi Natasha,
      He was the granduncle from my grandmother. She wrote letters with him in his last years. I believe she could provide you more information on his life. Please contact me private.

  3. Thomas Skarvada says:

    I spoke with “pan Vitek” several times, but it is only now that I learn more about his background. What a gentleman!

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