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One ordinary man. One extraordinary mission. A thousand lives at stake.

Near the end of World War II, thousands of Allied ex-POWs were abandoned to wander the war-torn, snow-swept Eastern Front. With no food, shelter, or supplies, they were an army of dying men.

The Red Army had pushed the Nazis out of Russia. As they advanced across Poland, the prison camps of the Third Reich were discovered and liberated. In defiance of humanity, the freed Allied prisoners were discarded without aid in the freezing wilds of Eastern Europe. The Soviets viewed POWs as cowards, and regarded all refugees as potential spies or partisans.

rmt passport photo

The US repeatedly offered to help recover their POWs, but were refused. With relations between the allies strained, a plan was conceived for an undercover rescue mission. In total secrecy, the OSS chose an obscure American air force detachment stationed at a Ukrainian airfield; it would provide the base and the cover for the operation. The man they picked to undertake it was veteran 8th Air Force bomber pilot Captain Robert M. Trimble.

With little covert training, already scarred by the trials of combat, Trimble took the mission. He would survive by wit, courage, and a determination to do some good in a terrible war. Alone he faced up to the terrifying Soviet secret police, saving hundreds of lives. At the same time he battled to come to terms with the trauma of war and find his own way home to his wife and child.

Beyond the Call is the compelling, inspiring true story of an American hero who laid his life on the line to bring his fellow men and women home to safety and freedom.

Find out how the story of Robert Trimble’s mission was discovered by his son, Lee …



Captain Trimble’s War

Robert M. Trimble grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, living among the great railroad yards of Harrisburg and the forested river valleys where he learned to fish and hunt. Robert was hardly more than a boy when he joined the US Army five months before Pearl Harbor. He wanted to fly, but the Army wouldn’t let him, because he didn’t have a college education. But what Robert Trimble lacked in scholarship he made up for in wits and determination; he wore the Army down and eventually achieved his dream of taking to the skies.

Within a couple of years Robert had joined the Army Air Forces and began training as a bomber pilot. In 1944, he and his crew flew to England as part of the big build-up of ground and air forces for the D-Day invasion of Europe.

Trimble B-24 crew

Lieutenant (later Captain) Robert M. Trimble (standing, second from left) and his crew with their B-24 Liberator prior to their first combat mission, England, July 6 1944. (The unit later converted to B-17 Flying Fortresses.)

At the end of 1944, after a harrowing tour of duty, Captain Trimble – still only 25 years old – flew his 35th and final combat mission. He and his crew had survived against the odds, often bringing their plane home shot full of holes and with pieces missing.

Scarred inside by what he had experienced, Robert was ready to go home to his wife, Eleanor, and their baby daughter, whom he hadn’t yet seen.

But the war wasn’t finished with Captain Trimble yet. To his surprise and bewilderment, he was briefed for one last mission – a mission to the Eastern Front that would take him into a world beyond horror, beyond the protection of his own side, and far beyond the call of duty…

Content © Jeremy Dronfield and Lee Trimble 2015