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Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero - Lesson Plan

Overview

For over seventy-two years, the crew of one World War II plane has held a special place in the hearts of the people of Lomianki, Poland. This particular crew belonged to a B-17 or Flying Fortress named “I’ll Be Seeing You” after a popular Bing Crosby song. Mississippi Sgt. Marcus Shook, born on June 30, 1920, in Belmont, Mississippi, and affectionately dubbed “Shooky” by his fellow airmen, was a member of this exceptional ten-man crew. Shook and the rest of the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You” are considered heroes by the citizens of Lomianki, Poland. In 1944, the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” along with the crews of more than one hundred other B-17s, participated in daring airdrops attempting to provide badly needed supplies to the Polish resistance engaged in the Warsaw Uprising, an attempt to liberate the beleaguered, capital city from German occupation. Shook was one of only two crew members of “I’ll Be Seeing You” to survive the dangerous mission. “I’ll Be Seeing You” was the only B-17 downed by Germans during the historic mission. After being struck by enemy fire and exploding, the plane’s remains crashed at Dziekanόw Leśny near Lomianki, a small town located nine miles from Warsaw. In 1986, the community of Lomianki erected a nine-foot granite memorial in Kielpin Cemetery. One year later, Shook, along with then Vice President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, attended the first annual ceremony to honor the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You.” In 1994, the city of Lomianki made the Mississippi native an honorary citizen just before he succumbed to cancer in 1995.

Curricular Connections

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 and 3

Common Core

RH.1-2, 4, 8-9; WHST.2, 4-9

Teaching Level

Grades 7 through 12

Materials/Equipment

  • Mississippi History Now article, “Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero”
  • Reading guide
  • Research worksheet
  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Data projector
  • Various resource books

Objectives

The students will:

  1. Analyze historical photographs.
  2. Conduct research on a historical event.
  3. Create a news segment about an aspect of the Mississippi History NOW article and related events.

Opening the Lesson

The teacher will place the students into groups of three or four in order to analyze the pictures included with the Mississippi History Now article, “Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero.” The teacher will ask one student in the group to record the group’s answers to the questions listed below. The students should be given about 15 minutes to respond to the questions.

  1. Study all of the pictures included with the article. What is your overall impression of the collection? (Include one or two sentences.)
  2. Where were the photographs taken?
  3. Who is in the photographs?
  4. What type of activity is taking place in the photographs?
  5. By observing the details of the photographs, what can you determine?
  6. What would you like to know about the events or subjects in the pictures that you cannot visually see by looking at the photographs?

After 15 minutes, the teacher will conduct a class discussion about the photographs based on the student responses to the questions above. During the discussion, the teacher will emphasis that Marcus Shook is a native Mississippian. The teacher will inform the students that the crew members of the B-17 bomber “I’ll Be Seeing You” were considered heroes not only to their native states and country, but also to the citizens of Lomianki, Poland. The teacher will tell the students that over the course of the next several days that they will be able to study and research native Mississippian Marcus Shook and the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” along with their World War II mission. A world map should be used during the discussion of the pictures in order for students to understand geographical locations of regions important to the mission of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Developing the Lesson

  1. The teacher will distribute to the students a copy of the Mississippi History Now article, “Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero,” and a copy of the article reading guide attached to this lesson. As the students read the article, they should respond to the questions on the reading guide. The students can work independently or with a partner to answer the questions during class.
  2. The teacher will lead a class discussion about the Mississippi History Now article by asking student volunteers to share their answers to the questions on the reading guide.
  3. Once the class discussion has been concluded, students should be placed in groups of three to complete a project. The teacher will tell the students that each group will be responsible for creating a 10 to 15 minute radio broadcast about an aspect of the events mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article, “Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero.” The teacher will also inform the class that a radio broadcast was selected as the format for the project because this was the most common mode of communication used to keep the public informed about the war effort. Each group should be given a copy of the project research worksheet attached to this lesson in order to record and document the sources used for the group project. If available, students should be encouraged to use both primary and secondary sources when researching the topic of their project. Once the research is complete, each group should write a script for their radio broadcast. Listed below are topic suggestions for the radio broadcast:
    • Warsaw Uprising of 1944
    • Supply drops made by 110 B-17s, including “I’ll Be Seeing You” on September 18, 1944
    • The crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You”
    • B-17 Bombers
    • The 1986 monument and the 1987 ceremony at Kielpin Cemetery to “I’ll Be Seeing You”
  4. Once the students have written their script for their radio broadcast, they should type their final draft to be submitted to the teacher.

Closing the Lesson

Each group should present their broadcast to the class. After the group presentations, the teacher will ask the students to respond to the questions listed below. The students can respond in an oral or written format.

  1. What are the three things you discovered from your study of the Mississippi History Now article, “Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero” and the research for group project?
  2. What are two interesting facts you learned from your study of the Mississippi History Now article and the research for your group project?
  3. What questions do you still have about the topics you have studied in this lesson?

Assessing Student Learning

  • Class participation
  • Photograph activity
  • Reading guide
  • Research worksheet
  • Radio broadcast script
  • Presentation

Enrichment

  • Students should research answers to questions they still have about the lesson.
  • Plan a program to honor the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
  • Write a diary entry for one of the following viewpoints during World War II: ( a ) a Member of the crew of “I’ll Be Seeing You; ( b ) a Citizen of Lomianki during the supply drops; or ( c ) a Member of the Polish Home Army resistance fighters.
  • Pretend to be an American pilot who flew and provided aid during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and write a letter home to loved ones after the mission.
  • Research the interment of American POWs during World War II.
  • Study monuments and memorials erected here and abroad in honor of American veterans.
  • Visit Marcus Shook’s gravesite in his hometown of Belmont, Mississippi.

Other Mississippi History Now articles about World War II:

Karla Smith is the Social Studies Department Chair at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jefferson Davis Campus.

ADDITIONAL LESSON PLANS ON MISSISSIPPI HISTORY:

MDAH Lesson Plans and Teaching Units

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