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Frank Grey, 90; airman escaped notorious Stalag 17

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Frank Grey, who was held in Stalag 17 by the Germans in World War II and was known as the ''Grey ghost" for his ability to avoid detection, died Sunday of heart failure. He was 90.

Mr. Grey served 20 years in the Air Force, and was also a veteran of the Korean War.

''He was quite an amazing man," said his grandson, Tim Grey of Naples.

Mr. Grey was a tail gunner on a B-17 of the 92d Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force in England when his plane was shot down during World War II. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and POW Medal.

His exploits at Stalag 17 were detailed in a 2004 book, ''The Flame Keepers," by Ned Handy.

According to Handy's book, Mr. Grey immediately hid among 4,000 POWs when he arrived at infamous Stalag 17. After a three-day search by German guards and the Gestapo, they were unable to find Mr. Grey and became convinced that he escaped.

Edward McKenzie, a former Stalag 17 prisoner who lives in Littleton, N.H., said yesterday Mr. Grey was supposed to be at Stalag 17 overnight and then go to Vienna to stand trial on civil charges.

Mr. Grey resurfaced and entered an adjoining Russian POW compound, from which he would escape and make his way back to England, according to the book.

In Korea, he served on a B-29 crew, surviving 57 bombing missions.

Mr. Grey, a longtime resident of Jacksonville Beach, was born in Welch, W.Va.

He leaves his wife and three children.

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