He graduated from aircraft mechanics school at Roosevelt Field on Long Island, but was frustrated: He wanted to fly planes, not fix them.
“How would I fight Hitler with a wrench?” he told The New York Times last year.
He was referred to Mitchel Field two miles away where he became an aviation cadet. During his training, he married Frankie Marie Smith in New Mexico; after the war, they divorced.
He was deployed to Eye, England, near the North Sea, where his diverse crew consisted of one other Jew, five Catholics, a Morman and a criminal who had been given a choice of going to jail or joining the Army.
Returning from his 33rd mission, the mammoth Feb. 3, 1945, air raid on Berlin, Mr. Spiegel managed to belly-land on a frozen potato field in Reczyn, Poland. While the crews’ families were informed that their kin were missing in action, they were held by Russian troops.
Uncertain what to do with putative allies, the Russians awaited orders from their superiors. But instead of staying put, Mr. Spiegel and his fellow officers surreptitiously removed an engine and a tire from their own plane to repair another hobbled B-17 that had crashed nearby. They bartered for fuel and, on March 17, the combined crews escaped to Foggia, Italy, where they were able to notify their families back home that they had survived. Mr. Spiegel led two more missions, then returned home to New York on Aug. 31, 1945, but he would go back to England and Poland for reunions of his crew from the 849th Bomb Squadron of the 490th Bomb Group.