Interview with Wayne Treadway    (back to WWII Project)

LO:  Mr. Treadway, what was your mother's name?

WT:  Her name was Tibitha Treadway, T-i-b-i-t-h-a.

LO:  And what was her last name, her maiden name?

WT:  Her maiden name was Baker, B-a-k-e-r.

LO:  And your father's name?

WT:  Was Winfred, W-i-n-f-r-e-d, Winfred Treadway.

LO:  And where were you born?

WT:  I was born in Flippin, Arkansas.

LO:  And what date?

WT:  (DELETED CONTENT)

LO:  And how many children in your family?

WT:  There was seven in my family, seven children.

LO:  And what county is Flippin in?

WT:  Marion County.

LO:  And you lived all your life in Flippin?

WT:  No, no. I lived there until I was thirteen, and then we moved to Booneville, Arkansas.

LO:  Okay. And what did your father do?

WT:  He had a saw mill, he was a saw miller, cut pine lumber.

LO:  Did you graduate from high school?

WT:  Yes, I did. I graduated at Booneville, in 1940.

LO:  And once you graduated, what did you do?

WT:  Well, I worked around Booneville for a few months. And then like most people were doing back then, I went to California, and I worked out in California until I was eighteen. And when I was eighteen, I got a job at Consolidated Aircraft, and they were building B-24s there.

LO:  And where was that?

WT:  That was in San Diego, Consolidated Aircraft was the name of it.

LO:  Okay. That would have been San Diego. Did you later fly B-24s?

WT:  No, I later flew B-17s. I worked there about ten months, and then I decided that I wanted to join the Air Force, and so I went and resigned. They told me I could be deferred if I liked, but I didn't choose to.

LO:  Because of your work?

WT:  Yeah, working at a defense plant; but I joined at Fort Rosecrans is where I joined the Air Force. Your spelling is good as mine. It's R-o-s-c-r-a-n, I think, Fort Rosecrans.

LO:  And do you remember the date of that?

CB:  Enlistment, November 17th, 1942. 2

WT:  Started to say, November 17th, 1942.

CB:  Fort Rosecrans is in California?

WT:  Yes, right out of San Diego there a ways.

LO:  How old were you at the time of your enlistment?

WT:  Nineteen.

LO:  What knowledge did you have of the war that was going on in Europe at that time?

WT:  Well, just what we got on the radio and newspaper and other people talking to other people that had relatives over there.

LO:  What did you think about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

WT:  I thought that was really a lousy terrible thing that the Japanese did.

LO:  Where were you when that happened?

WT:  I'm trying to think. We lived at Flippin, my mother and dad lived at Flippin. And I was there and took my mother to see her sister at Huntsville, Arkansas. And on the way back from Huntsville, we stopped there at Yaleville, Arkansas; and they had the radio on and it was telling about the Pearl Harbor.

LO:  What were your feelings? I mean were you expecting it?

WT:  Everybody was just amazed that that would happen, just unheard of, and we were just really shocked.

LO:  Why were you shocked?

WT:  Well, because the signs looked pretty good. The Japanese person that was over here talking to our President at that time, and looked like things were going to be kindly smoothed over, calmed down. So it was a shock I think for most everyone.

LO:  And did you later realize that was part of their plan was to have him there?

WT:  Yes, yes, I did, yeah. I think we all come to realize that, that was part of the plan they had.

LO:  Why did you choose the Air Force to go in?

WT:  Well, I always wanted to, I thought I'd like to fly. And when I joined the Air Force, I signed up to go through the cadet program. At that time, you needed to be a high school graduate to be eligible and so I was and I signed up for it, but they didn't have any openings. So they sent me Luke Field and got my basic training.

CB:  Where was that?

WT:  That was right out of Phoenix.

LO:  Luke?

WT:  Luke Field.

LO:  And that was like regular boot camp?

WT:  Yes, that was boot camp. 3

LO:  And then what did you do?

WT:  They sent me to Shepardfield in Texas. That's where the sun shined and it would snow at the same time, they had terrible weather there. But I was there and they put me in mechanic school, airplane mechanic school. And then after about four months, they called me up to the aviation cadet school.

LO:  Now all during this time, were you single?

WT:  Yes, I was single up until right now. They give me a furlough from enlistment before I went into the officer's training. Norma and I had been dating for quite a few years, well, couple of years. And I called her and she came to San Antone, Texas, where they had sent me. And I had a week's furlough and she came there and we were married there at San Antone, it was May the 11th, 1943.

LO:  And that was in San Antonio?

WT:  San Antone, Texas.

LO:  And it was May the--

WT:  May the 11th.

LO:  1943?

WT:  Yes.

LO:  Were you married without family there?

WT:  Yeah. We married, we had couple of good friends, they were cadets. We were fixing to go through the program, so we were called cadets then. And I had a couple of cadets, we had kind of a little military wedding. Had the rifles and we walked under them.

LO:  Did you go back home after your wedding? NT:  I stayed for about a week or two.

WT:  Yeah, stayed about a week.

LO:  And then you went into officer's training?

WT:  Yes, I went into officer's training there.

LO:  And how was that?

WT:  Well, that was pretty rigid. I mean you had to do everything by the book. You had to make your bed just perfect every morning, and you had to salute every officer you come into contact with. And the first nine weeks was ground school completely.

LO:  And when you say ground school, what does that mean?

WT:  Well, that means I didn't fly. We hadn't started flying yet.

LO:  Was that like learning to march and shoot?

WT:  No. That was a lot of that, and was also about weather and it was kind of like going to college in lots of ways. We had four hours of it every morning.

LO:  So you had to learn a lot about the weather and map reading to fly? 4

WT:  Yeah. Map reading, directions and things that an officer needs to know about his relationship with the other officers and enlisted men and so forth.

LO:  Was there a lot that didn't make that first nine weeks?

WT:  Yes. It was pretty good fallout.

LO:  And you completed that nine weeks?

WT:  Completed that; and then I went to Shepardfield, Texas, where they had primary training there, what they call primary training.

LO:  And what did you do in primary training?

WT:  Okay. We still went to school four hours in the morning. And then starting soon as we eat lunch, then we started flying. We had instructors, it was single engine planes and it was two seaters. The teacher was an instructor, sat in the backseat, I sat up in the front seat. And course we had intercoms that he could instruct me and everything.

LO:  They had tops on them, those planes?

WT:  Yeah, you pulled the canopy closed.

CB:  Is that like the navy trainers?

WT:  They called them AT-13A. I guess that's some kind of an advanced trainer. And so after I soloed there, after seven or eight hours of training, I soloed. And I remember the instructor told me after about eight hours, he said, "Well, Wayne, you'll probably kill yourself, but go ahead and take off."

LO:  That was encouraging.

WT:  Yeah, that was. He was being funny, you know, he was being funny because I had come in and they had a field where you come in from both sides and you stayed over on your own side. I got over in the other people's side, so he got on me a little bit for that. But he said I think you're ready to solo and I did and didn't have any problem.

LO:  After you soloed, what'd they do with you?

WT:  Well, then we just kept flying every afternoon. We'd fly and fly around, we had different patterns and they'd tell us where to fly in, and kept learning about radio and all that kind of stuff. And course we had ground school in the morning, and that went on for nine weeks there. And then they sent us from there to Garden City, Kansas, to take basic training. This was basic flying.

LO:  What did they teach there?

WT:  Well, it was a lot bigger one engine plane. It was just for the pilot and it seemed like it was so much bigger. First time they started that motor up, it just sounded so loud, used to that little PTA trainer. But we had nine weeks of training there and we learned about weather a lot, and then we learned about how to plot our directions and how to find out where you're at.

CB:  Navigation? 5

WT:  Navigation, yes, navigation. We learned a lot about navigation there.

LO:  At any point during these twenty-seven weeks, did you think what did I let myself in for?

WT:  Yeah, I probably did a few times; but I enjoyed it, and I was learning things all the time and I was enjoying myself. I'd write to Norma about every night, and she'd write to me, we were very much in love. And she'd gotten pregnant and nine months later, we had Ronnie, our oldest boy, and she got to come and visit me there in primary training there and she got to visit me some there. I would fly all week and then on Saturday evening at two o'clock, we got off and we could stay all night in town and we had to be back in camp by four o'clock on Sunday. So we got to spend some time together there at Vernon, Texas.

LO:  What did you do on those days that you had weekends off, and she was back in Arkansas?

WT:  Well, not very much. Sometime we'd go into town and maybe go to a movie or something.

LO:  And the citizens in town, how did they treat you?

WT:  Well, they were all very, very good.

LO:  Very good?

WT:  A good reception. I never had any problem. I know I went to a high school on one Saturday night, I went to a high school football game they had there. And everybody was used to the cadets.

LO:  So you were still in a cadet uniform?

WT:  Yes.

LO:  And after you completed this nine weeks, what happened?

WT:  Well then, are you talking about my basic now? I completed that.

LO:  In Kansas?

WT:  Yeah, at Garden City, Kansas. Then from there, I went to Altus, Oklahoma, for what they call advanced training.

LO:  Alice?

WT:  Altus, A-l-t-u-s, Altus, Oklahoma.

LO:  Advanced training?

WT:  Yes.

LO:  Now, was that advanced flight training?

WT:  Yes, advanced flight training. And that's where, after nine weeks there, is when I graduated, I got my wings and my 2d Lieutenant bars. I really thought I was in high Heaven there.

LO:  And you got your pilot wings?

WT:  Yes, got my wings.

LO:  So you changed uniform? 6

WT:  Yeah, go to an officer's uniform, yeah.

LO:  Okay. How did you feel the first time you put that on, put those wings on?

WT:  I felt like I was doing great, things were wonderful.

LO:  Were you there to see that? NT:  No, I wasn't. Ronnie was born right about that time.

WT:  They assigned me at first after I graduated, they assigned me to be an instructor. So I called Norma and she came up there with Ronnie, the baby.

LO:  And was this the first time you saw him?

WT:  No, I had a furlough when he was born.  They give me a three day furlough, and I rode the bus from San Antone up to Tulsa, where she was at at the time with her folks.

LO:  And so you stayed in San Antonio as an instructor then?

WT:  No. I stayed at Altus, Oklahoma.

LO:  Okay. You didn't go back to Texas, you stayed in--

WT:  I didn't go back to Texas, no, after that. That was back when I was there.

LO:  So you were an advanced training instructor?

WT:  Yes, I was. But I not much more than got started on that, about maybe a month, we were there maybe a month, and they needed someone to complete a crew, they needed a co-pilot. And they sent me to Sioux City, Iowa, and joined this B-17 crew.

LO:  And you were the co-pilot?

WT:  I was the co-pilot.

LO:  For a B-17?

WT:  Uh-huh. And we were assigned to Sioux City and it took us I guess about six weeks. We trained in the B-17 because we'd just come out of a much smaller plane. So we had to take training for that big, we thought it was a huge plane, B-17.

LO:  How big was it, I mean how many people?

WT:  Well, regular crew was nine.

CB:  What were their positions?

WT:  Okay. We had a pilot and a co-pilot, a navigator, a radio man, a nose gunner, a tail gunner and a top turret gunner. How many we got now?

LO:  Nose gunner, you said a nose gunner?

WT:  Yeah, and a top turret gunner.

LO:  And there's one more?

WT:  All right.

CB:  Seven, there should be two more. Pilot, co-pilot, navigator. 7

LO:  Was there a back gunner?

WT:  Tail gunner, we got that, yeah, was a tail gunner, you bet. And a waist, did I say waist gunner?

CB:  No.

WT:  Okay. Waist gunner.

LO:  Is that w-a-i-s-t?

WT:  Uh-huh. That's in the center, kind of in the center of the plane. They had guns on each side.

JW:  Did the plane have a name?

WT:  We never did name ours. Some of them did, but I was thinking about that same thing here last night, but if they did, I don't remember the name.

CB:  Did you just have one waist gunner?

WT:  Yes, yes, just one waist gunner.

CB:  Did you have a belly gunner?

WT:  That's what we called a top turret gunner. He usually, the waist gunner, we had a top turret and a belly, also. And he would go whichever way he thought--

CB:  He'd go both positions?

WT:  Both places. If they were below us, he'd get in the lower one. But the regular crew was nine, and most of the time we flew without a navigator, and we usually just had eight because the navigator was a lead plane, he was in the lead plane. And then they also had them in about three or four different planes in the lead, in case one of them got shot down, we had a navigator, and we followed the navigator. No, I'm sorry. Bombardier, we didn't have what they call a bombardier, we had what we called a togglelier. He was the nose gunner and he would push the little button that would drop the bombs. When the lead plane, when he saw the first bomb come out, he pushed that button.

LO:  What'd you call him, a togglelier?

WT:  Togglelier, yeah.

CB:  T-o-g?

WT:  T-o-g-g-l-e-r, it was a toggle switch. He pushed that toggle switch.

LO:  And that was the nose gunner?

WT:  That was the nose gunner did that because he was up there where he could see when they'd drop their bombs.

CB:  That's interesting.

LO:  So you finished six weeks training in your B-17. Where'd you go?

WT:  Okay. Then we flew to Maine, airbase in Maine, I can't think of the name of it. And they give us a brand new B-17 to ferry over to England, going to the European Theater. And we flew, my whole crew, we landed at Iceland, stayed all night in Iceland, and then I think we had to wait one day there because of weather and then we flew on 8 into Stone, England.

CB:  Where is that?

WT:  That was north of London.

CB:  Stone?

WT:  Stone, England. And I can still remember, may not even be there anymore, but it was then. And they took that new plane away from us right away.

LO:  That was what I was going to ask.

WT:  We stayed there for just two or three days and then they assigned us to the 384th Bomb Group, that was about fifty miles south of London.

LO:  And so did you start flying missions?

WT:  Well, there again, we had about three weeks of training down there, flying. You have to learn all the things you got to do to fly in combat.

LO:  Was Germany bombing while you were doing this three weeks?

WT:  Were they being bombed, you mean?

LO:  England, were they being bombed by the Germans?

WT:  No. By the time we got over there, I got over there in October of 1944. By that time, the war had turned in our favor and the German Air Force had been really decimated, if that's the word, they'd lost a lot of planes. They still had some planes, but they lost a lot of them. So now then, the things that were shooting down our aircraft was the anti-aircraft guns, more than it was fighter planes. The fighters were still there, but they were in a fewer number. But we started flying missions then in November of 1944, after about two or three weeks training.

LO:  And when you flew the missions, where did you fly them?

WT:  Over Germany, we had different targets, we hit ammunition dumps, ball bearing factories, rail yards, places where we thought they were building airplanes and automobiles. We tried to bomb their tank factories. And we flew eighteen missions and returned safely eighteen times. And six times out of that eighteen, the weather was so bad, we were averted to another field, have to stay all night at another, land and wait until the weather cleared up so we could go back to our home base, the 384th. And so, as I said, we flew eighteen missions. You want me to go ahead with the nineteenth mission?

LO:  Uh-huh.

WT:  All right. On the nineteenth mission, why, we was assigned, the Eighth Air Force had come up with a two thousand plane armada, to go in to Berlin and try to get all of the places where they made the factories and the rail yards and all that. So we were assigned to bomb the rail yards, certain rail yards they had there in Berlin, that was our assignment. And you can imagine two thousand planes. Course, I couldn't see it, but I saw it later in pictures and stuff. There was two thousand planes that day. 9

LO:  That went at the same time?

WT:  At the same time, just row after row of us.

LO:  Must have been important rail lines.

WT:  If you look in your history, it's listed there, I think, as the largest one that they ever had.

CB:  Do you know what date that was?

WT:  I sure do. It was February the 3rd, 1945. And the Germans had 88 guns that were a very, very good gun, very good artillery. And they had kept pulling their artillery back as our armies coming from the west kept getting closer and closer to them, they kept pulling back. And by then, by February 3rd, 1945, most of their artillery was in Berlin. They had a lot of it in Berlin because of the rail yards and everything. And they really put up a screen of, really, shells exploding. And we could see it before we even got there, it just looked like a road bed where those shells were exploding, little white clouds.

LO:  And you knew you were flying into it?

WT:  We were flying right into it. And wasn't nothing we could do because we were on a bomb run. We were already on our bomb run when we got into this artillery fire. And just as we dropped our bombs, they hit us and set us on fire, the right wing was on fire. And I pushed the intercom button and said, "Bail out, bail out." Because we thought it would explode at any minute because the fuel was in the tanks, was in the wings.

LO:  Was anyone hurt at that time?

WT:  Yeah, the waist gunner was wounded. He got hit by shrapnel in the right hip, I believe it was, and they had to help him. When he got ready to jump, they had to kind of throw him out because he couldn't walk.

LO:  So it hit you, you told them to bail out?

WT:  Because we was on fire.

LO:  And then all of y'all got out?

WT:  Uh-huh.

LO:  Right over Berlin?

WT:  Right over Berlin. But course by the time this all happened, we had gone out of Berlin a little bit. And course, way the wind was blowing, too. So I went out the nose hatch and I can remember when I went out that nose hatch, they had the bomb bay doors open right behind the nose hatch. And boy, I just, I can still remember seeing that big old lid hanging down there. I just barely missed it, I went under it. If I had to do it over, I'd have jumped out of the bomb bay instead of the nose hatch. But anyway, it missed me, and felt like I was right on my back, just going round and round in that parachute.

LO:  Were you on your back?

WT:  Well, it felt that way, you know, but I had nothing to go by, 10 and we were at about twenty-one thousand feet when we bailed out. And course there's not much oxygen up there, so they had told us all in briefings to free fall for about a minute or two until you get down into more atmosphere. And I tried to, but I don't imagine I waited over about ten seconds until I pulled my ripcord.

JW:  Do you recall what time of day this?

WT:  Yes, I do. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning. And I pulled the ripcord and I could see after my chute opened, and that was the greatest jerk that I ever had in my life. Boy, when that opened, I'm sure glad it opened, and then I started floating down. And I could see some of the German fighter planes, they kind of hung around out there, I guess waiting for stragglers.  But they didn't bother me, thank goodness, and I went on down. When I got close to the ground, I could see I was moving sideways, turned out to be about a twenty mile an hour wind down there and I was going kind of sideways, coming down kind of like forty-five degrees. And all of a sudden, I saw all these wires coming up. And I thought, oh, Lord, if they're electric wires, I'm a goner; but they were telephone wires. And I went under the telephone wires and my parachute went over them and just wrapped around, and I was just hanging there on those telephone wires. Didn't get hurt, but I was just hanging there.

JW:  How far off the ground?

WT:  Well, it was in this little town. Let me tell you, it was in a little town, little neighborhood there outside of Berlin. And here come the people out there, you know, and they weren't very happy to see me, they were really jabbering and pointing and all that. They could reach my feet, I was hanging down to where they could reach my feet and touch my feet, that's all. So they had to lift up somebody to get up there and cut my parachute straps, and they let me fall down there. And had some old man with some kind of a rifle or shotgun, and he kept wanting to point it at me, kind of had me worried. And there was another guy, somebody that had some kind of a farm pitchfork type thing, he was there. But this soldier come running down the road, this German soldier, and made them get back out of the way. And that's when he cut me down and he took me in then, this was just a little community town outside of Berlin, I guess about twenty miles that we had gone, time we bailed out and all that stuff, we got about that far out. And they took me into this community building and I used to say, went in the door of this kind of a little church building type thing, I knew I was in trouble because there was a huge picture of Hitler on one wall, and Goering on the other, he was the Air Force General in charge of the Air Force. And they had me strip down to, well, this suit I had on, that electric suit that we plugged into the battery and kept us warm at the high altitude. And they searched me and I had a few English pounds on me, they took them, and had me dress again. And by that time, they had gotten the waist gunner that had gotten wounded and they picked him up. And they, I guess, sort of bound up his leg, wasn't too bad evidently, and they put he and I in a buggy. Course, you got to remember this is back in 1945 in Germany out in the country, but they put us in a buggy and took us back into Berlin and put us in a Luftwaffe jail. And then they gradually started bringing in my crew, just one or two at a 11 time, until they got all of us by about ten o'clock that night, they got the last one, brought him in. They were all safe, everybody was safe, all eight of us.

LO:  It's a wonder some of the citizens didn't--

WT:  Yeah, somebody. That's true, very true. In fact, some of the different, when I got in the prison camp and talking to other prisoners, well, they had friends that were beaten up real bad by the German civilians, but they didn't bother us.

LO:  So from Berlin, they took you--

WT:  Okay. And from Berlin, after about three days, I guess we were there in that Luftwaffe base for about three days. And they put us, all of us, on a train, took us into Berlin, one of the railroads there and put us on a train and they took us to Neuremberg. And there, I was interviewed by a German colonel. And course he started asking me some questions and he soon found out that 2d Lieutenants don't know very much about all the different things he was wanting to know. So after about five or ten minutes, he had them take me back and put me in, it's kind of just a jail is what it was. And in this jail was kind of a little slop jar and a cot and I was in solitary confinement there just by myself. And they kept me there about seven days in that solitary confinement, and they'd bring me two meals a day, they'd slide it under the door. And it wasn't much, but it was enough to keep you going. And then after about seven days, they come and got me and some of the other prisoners that was in that same brig, and took us from there to a prison camp there outside of Neuremberg. And this prison camp was quite a little ways away from where we were at in prison there. And they put us on a train to go there, I don't know, forty, fifty miles, whatever it was. And while we was on that train, all of a sudden it stopped and all of the people on the train jumped out and ran off into the woods. And about that time, we heard this plane coming over, strafing that train, it was an American, and we were still on that sucker, too. But we got under the seats best we could, and it missed us. They strafed the car we was in; course, the pilot had no way of knowing that we were in there, but we got strafed. But after they moved on, they got back on the train and we went on into the prison camp. And there they had a Red Cross building there that they give us some clothes to wear and I guess one suit is all they give us; but they did give us that and underwear, the Red Cross did that for us. And we were there for about I guess two months, we were there at Neuremberg in the prison camp, for about two months. And one morning, this German soldier come in and, well, actually, he called everybody out in a parade, they had a role call every morning. They'd get us out there and count us off. And so that morning, soon as they got us out there, they told us to get our stuff ready, that we were leaving in just like fifteen minutes. They didn't tell us where we were going, get ready to march. And so what little stuff we got, course, didn't take three minutes to get it and each one of us kind of had a little bag to carry it in. The Red Cross had give us a package, they'd given us about two packages there in the couple of months that we stayed there.  And in this package, there was six packages of Lucky Strike.  Boy, those smokers really loved that. And I'd trade mine, I didn't smoke at that 12 time, and I would trade mine for some of their canned goods, they had little canned, you know, little weinies and stuff that would last a long time. So we got a little food that way from those, little something. And they also had pencil and paper in those packages.

LO:  Did you get to write your wife?

WT:  No, there wasn't no way of mailing it, they wouldn't mail it for us. So then that morning, they told us that we were going to move and so we got our stuff and we marched right through this Neuremberg. And buildings were down just everywhere, half buildings, some of them were nothing but ashes. They had bombed that city, the Americans would bomb them in the daytime and the English would do it at night, but they had bombed the city pretty bad. And the section we went through was really terrible, in a terrible shape. But anyway, we marched on for twelve days and we were going to Moosberg, where we found out later is where we were going. And at night, we'd stay in barns, if there were any barns. If they didn't, we just slept outside. It was in April, so it wasn't too bad, weather. And we would stay all night and we'd sleep in hay stacks and they would just circle us with their dogs and their soldiers and keep us all in one little wad. But mostly, we slept in barns and we'd eat whatever we could. They didn't give us any rations on that trip, everybody had taken what they'd gotten from the Red Cross with them. And we'd get potatoes from these farms where they'd put us up at night.

LO:  You'd just get them out of the fields?

WT:  No, they had mounds out there in Germany. That's the way they stored their Irish potatoes, and we'd get those potatoes. We ate pretty good on that trip. But anyway, then as I said, took us twelve days, and we got into Moosberg, Moosberg, Germany.

LO:  Was that another camp?

WT:  Yeah, another prison camp. And they had the officers in one section and the enlisted men in another section.

CB:  Why did they move you?

WT:  Because the Allied armies were coming in there. You could hear their guns at night, and they knew that we were going to get taken back if they didn't move us, so they moved us.

LO:  When you got to Moosberg, was there already prisoners there?

WT:  Yes, there sure was.

LO:  And they were English and American?

WT:  English and American. The English prisoners, most of the English prisoners, a lot of them died from malnutrition because they had been, see, they were in war over there for about two years before we were, maybe even three years. And they were, some of those prisoners that were captured early on, were just skin and bones, they were real emaciated. And so they just, a diet like we had over a period of three years, just about to get them. And so then after we settled in there for about three weeks, we were there about three weeks at Moosberg there. And one Sunday morning there, we heard all this small arms fire. And Patton's 3rd Army, they were out away from us, but the 13 foot soldiers came right through the camp, and we noticed that our guards were leaving, they were taking off. And they were just dropping their rifles where they were at and running, getting out of there. And sure enough, here come the soldiers, they come right on through our camp. And the tanks, whole bunch of tanks went on in, we could see them down there a few blocks away from us there down the road, kind of a main road that went by there, there was a lot of tanks all down in there and even some of them come in the prison camp.

LO:  And they knew you were there?

WT:  Yes, they knew we were there, and they set up a kitchen for us. But right then though, that Sunday morning, I guess about an hour after they went through that camp, Moosberg was just over there about a mile, mile and a half, and you could see they had a tower and they had that German flag flying, we all could see that. Well, all of a sudden that old German flag went down and--

CB:  Old Glory was flying, wasn't it?

LO:  That had to be a wonderful sight.

WT:  Yeah, that was real good to see that. But then they set up a kitchen for us and I guess we were there maybe four, five days before they could move us and they fed us real good. Boy, we had real good old GI food, real food. They had a big old tent, mess hall tent there that had a lot of tables and they fed that whole group.

LO:  Since you'd been without good food, could you really eat it or did you just have to--

WT:  No, not really. You couldn't eat as much as you wanted to, you just fill up too quick, you know.

LO:  How about those English soldiers that had been there longer?

WT:  Well, there again, when we got to Moosberg, I didn't see them anymore so I don't know how they come out. And most of them, I guess the ones that made it, had to ride in those Red Cross trucks because they weren't able to walk like that. And one thing, another side note was while we were on that march from Nuremburg to Moosberg, we got this long line of soldiers just going down this little road. We kindly stayed out in the country, they didn't take us through the main roads, but there was hundreds of us, thousands of us, I guess. But anyway, it come right down the deal that President Roosevelt had died, that's when we found out that he had died. When did he die? April, that's when it was, April of '45.

LO:  How did you feel?

WT:  We found out that Franklin Roosevelt had died.

LO:  Did you feel like our country was without a leader now?

WT:  Well, kind of. We all hated it, although I think we all knew that had a vice-president that would take over and things would go on, but we hated to lose him, he was a great president.

CB:  Did this march have a name like the Bataan Death March?

WT:  No, it didn't. And I don't think you could compare it to that 14 because we did have enough to eat and--well, we didn't have enough to eat but we had enough to keep us going and to drink, and so it wasn't anything, I don't think, to compare with that Japanese.

CB:  But there were thousands of prisoners?

WT:  Thousands of prisoners there, yeah. Nuremberg had just acres and acres of prison barracks where they had Allied prisoners. And all of us, they took us all down there, there was thousands of us.

LO:  Now you talked about Red Cross trucks. Were our people from the United States in the Red Cross actually over there in the camps?

WT:  Well, there was Red Cross trucks. And yeah, the drivers, as I remember, were usually people that could talk English, probably Englishmen.

LO:  But they couldn't help you beyond what they allowed?

WT:  No, they couldn't. Now, they did help in one way. They did get some trucks in there that would help the people, the soldiers that couldn't walk, they did get some trucks in there, the Germans didn't, but there was I think Red Cross, I guess it was Red Cross.

LO:  So after they got you out of the prison, fed you, what'd they do with you?

WT:  Well, as I said, we stayed there. I know about the first day or second day we were there, General Patton rode his Jeep, open Jeep right down through the prison camp, big old prison camp. And we all cheered, you know, we were sure glad to see him. And we were there about five days and then they started taking us out at truckloads at a time, they put us in trucks. And they took us to an air base that was about, as I remember, thirty minutes away from there, maybe forty-five minutes, that we had taken, this air base now belonged to us, the United States. Course it was still in Germany. But they flew us out of there to Frankfurt, Frankfurt is on the ocean there, and we was put in barracks there and stayed there until we got on a ship then coming home. We didn't fly home, we got on a liberty ship.

JW:  Somewhere right around in there, General Patton was killed. Were you aware of that?

WT:  Yeah, he was killed later. But he was actually killed, I think about three months later than that. I think the war was over completely and things had kind of calmed down. He was in a wreck, wasn't it?

JW:  Right, I think it was 1945.

WT:  It probably was, it was still in '45 because we were liberated in May, and I think it was about three or four months later. I remember I was at home, had gotten back to the United States by then.

LO:  Did you come into New York?

WT:  Yes, we did, come right through, come into New York.

LO:  Were you there, Mrs. Treadway, when he came in? NT:  No.

WT:  She was-- 15

JW:  Did you come to New York by plane or by ship?

WT:  By ship, come in by ship.

JW:  Do you remember the name?

WT:  Yeah, it was some of the Navy ships, it was what they call a liberty ship. They'd built them, had been built more or less during the war times, war period, while the war was going on.

LO:  How did you feel when you saw the shores of the United States?

WT:  Felt great. Saw the Statue of Liberty, went right by that as we went in there. It felt great. I sure was glad to get home.

LO:  Now, had you been in contact with your wife?

WT:  Oh, yeah, by then I had. But something you might be interested to know, I was missing in action for almost that whole time, I was missing in action because course the Germans didn't do anything like that, you know, to help notify anybody. So Norma, what was it, they just told you that he was last seen in a parachute? NT:  We got the telegram right there, that said you were missing in action. And then we didn't hear any, they said if they had any news, they'd let us know. We were about two months, I guess, long time before we ever knew whether he was dead or alive. And so finally, we got a letter from one of your crew members saying that-- no, first though, we did get a message that the they had heard from your plane was that it was on fire and you were bailing out. And so then when-- Lost my train of thought.

JW:  You said you got a letter from a crew member. NT:  Yeah. And he said that he saw Wayne, and he said he was okay then. But we didn't know, there was no way he could get in touch with me or I could get in touch with him, so I didn't know for all that time.

JW:  What did you think during that time you didn't know? NT:  Did a lot of praying, for one thing. And I was living with my mother and dad, and soon as I got the message, his mother got it first and she sent it on to me.

LO:  That he was missing? NT:  When he was missing, I found out.

LO:  Through his mother? NT:  Yeah.

LO:  Wonder why? NT:  Because when they first signed up, we wasn't married at that time.

WT:  That was my home address, I gave my mother as a home address, and it hadn't been changed.

LO:  So the crew member that told him, how did he get a letter out? He wasn't in prison?

WT:  Yeah, he was in prison; but he probably was lucky enough to be 16 ahead of us there, he was an enlisted man. NT:  I didn't get that message until just before he was liberated. I didn't know anything.

LO:  Did the Air Force notify you he was liberated?

WT:  Yeah, they did. NT:  I think they did. I guess they sent it to your mother and she called me.

WT:  They notified my mother. That was the address they had and.

LO:  Well, you got word that he was missing. Days and weeks went on and you didn't know. NT:  Didn't know if he was dead or alive.

LO:  How did you conduct your life? NT:  Well, Ronnie was born at that time, my only son, and he was a lot of company.

CB:  Well, this Western Union telegram is dated April the 17th, 1945. And it looks like it says, "Ok. Explain later", or "Explain in letter." Is that the first time you heard from him? NT:  Yeah.

CB:  After he got out? NT:  Oh, that was the one that I guess, your mother got the letter that you were coming home or something.

CB:  Mrs. Lacy?

WT:  No, Treadway. Oh, you're talking about your mother and dad? NT:  Yeah. So I sent his mother that letter, "Wayne okay, but let you know later."

CB:  I see. This is something you sent? NT:  Now, the other one is the one that we got word that he was missing.

JW:  This is the report that he was missing February 3rd, 1945.

LO:  So while you were in camp, the Germans, I'm sure they had guards everywhere?

WT:  Oh, yeah, guard towers.

LO:  Were they decent or just ignored you all the time?

WT:  Yeah, they were, they stayed away from us as much as they could, they didn't mingle with us at all. I know when we was on that march from Nuremberg to Moosberg, we stopped at this German town and they had a little place there where you could buy sandwiches and things like that. So we were all in line and at ease there, we were just standing there, all of us, about four or five deep and just as far as you could see. I had something that I thought I could trade for maybe some cheeseburger or something. And so I went over there and all the rest of us were there, I broke ranks and went over there, I wasn't supposed to do that. And I went over there and was talking to the German and I was trying to talk to him. And I heard "Treadway, Treadway." And I looked around and there was that SS guy up there 17 about a half a block away and, boy, he was walking down there and he was going to get me. So I just turned around and just jumped back about five deep. And he come down there and he kind of looked around a little bit and went on, he didn't know who it was. By the time he got down there, I was like anybody else. But that's the only time I ever had a SS after me.

LO:  Did the Germans eat good while y'all were going hungry?

WT:  Well, I don't know. Toward the end of the war, I kind of doubt it, I really do. They had their chances to beat me up and they didn't. When they took us, after we were captured and stayed with the Air Force there four or five days and then they took us to this depot there in Berlin and put us on a train. And we had to sit there, stay there for hours before that plane, because their trains were really messed up because of the bombings and fixing them and all that stuff. We got a lot of glares and lot of people didn't like us, but they didn't lay a hand on us. But that didn't happen all the time, some of the boys did get beat up real bad. Not in my group, but after we got there, we talked to others. Some of them got beat up pretty good by civilians, but then I guess they'd lost maybe a son or somebody in the war.

JW:  It's kind of amazing that they didn't set on you with a broomstick the minute you hit the ground.

WT:  I know it. Well, as I said, they weren't very happy to see me. There was a guy with an old gun was pointing it at me, but he didn't do anything. But this soldier come running down there pretty quick because I guess he was afraid they would do something to me. And actually, he was trotting, he wasn't just walking, as I remember, he was half running. Kind of an older fellow because their younger guys was all out in the front lines, this was an older soldier that was there stationed at this little town, I guess, and he made them get back and leave me alone.

CB:  Did you have any contact with the Russians?

WT:  No, no. I had no contact at all with the Russians. They weren't in this-- If they were in this camp at Nuremberg or Moosberg, I didn't know them, I didn't see them. They were in a different section altogether.

LO:  How long did it take you to get home after reaching New York?

WT:  Well, after we got to New York, it didn't take very long. I think just about from New York, about couple of days, as I remember.

CB:  Where'd you go?

WT:  Rode on a train. I met Norma at Fort Smith, Arkansas, right here.

LO:  You took the train from New York to Fort Smith?

WT:  Yeah, as I remember, we took the train. I mean that's a detail that don't really stick in my mind very much, but it didn't take me long.

JW:  Do you remember which depot you came to in Fort Smith? 18

WT:  No, let's see. She met me at the motel.

LO:  So you didn't know he was on his way? NT:  I'd got word he was on his way.

JW:  No idea when he was going to get in?

WT:  She didn't know exactly. We knew within about twelve hours, I think. NT:  Sent you up to Chaffee.

WT:  See, they give me a furlough right away. And I had I believe it was a month, wasn't it, Norma? I believe I had a thirty day furlough. And then I guess I was discharged, I believe, in August, I believe of 1945. And they sent me, believe it or not, they sent me all the way to Denver, Colorado, for a discharge.

JW:  We're hearing that from more and more people that they were here, they lived here and they had to go clear over here to get discharged.

WT:  Well, Fort Chaffee was right there. They could have discharged me there.

JW:  But you had no idea why they did that?

WT:  I have no idea. Government, and course, Chaffee is not an air base. And that place where I went in Denver was an air base. They had two separate different sections.

LO:  The Navy guys had to go to Memphis.

CB:  This is November 5th, 1945, separation base Lowery Field, Denver, Colorado.

WT:  That's what I'm talking about. My dates were mixed up, November 5th, 1945.

LO:  Do you remember the date you landed in New York?

WT:  No, I don't. But it's bound to have been somewhere in I'd say the last of May or the first of June.

LO:  I guess after all you went through, dates just weren't important.

WT:  Well, they weren't. And know reason for me to write them down; and then as the years went by, you kind of forget what date it was. But it was in either last of May or first of June.

LO:  After you were discharged, did you just take it easy for awhile?

WT:  Yeah. After I was discharged, Norma's folks lived at McAlester, Oklahoma; so I went up, we were staying there with them, course Ronnie was just a baby. And Norma's dad had a little accident, bent a fender up on his old car and I was helping him fix that. And I got to thinking, well, that wouldn't be a bad profession to get into is being a body man on automobiles, automobile body man. So we moved from there then, we moved to Booneville pretty soon, we didn't stay up there very long, we moved to-- not Booneville but Fort Smith, we moved to Fort Smith and rented a little apartment for the three of us. And I went to work for the Buick dealer, Robbins Buick, an 19 apprentice body man. And the government paid me $75 a month, $75. Robbins kicked in $50 a week, and they paid me about that much so I got about a $100 a week.

LO:  Who did you work for?

WT:  Robbins Buick.

LO:  And that was an apprentice?

WT:  Yeah, as an apprentice body man, yeah.

LO:  And the government paid $75 monthly?

WT:  And then I think they paid me about-- Well, let's see, let me get this straight. They paid, Robbins paid me $50 a week. The government paid me $75 a month. I'll get it right in a minute.

LO:  So that was good money?

WT:  Yeah, yeah.

LO:  That was like the same as a GI Bill? I mean it was part of the GI Bill because you were in training.

WT:  Evidently, it was. Yeah, I had to sign up for it as I remember. And they sent me my check, seemed like I got it though only for like six months. They wanted to help you get started, I believe I got it for six months and then I was on my own as far as they were concerned.

LO:  You went through all that, plane being shot, parachuting out, landing in Germany, going as a POW to a prison camp, marching, and you weren't injured, you weren't shot, cut, broken bones?

WT:  No, no, good Lord was with me, wasn't he. NT:  Tell them what happened when you were working at Robbins, you were still kind of jumpy.

WT:  What she's talking about is the guys were kind of cutting up there and it was break time and I was back there where I was working, I think I was back drinking a Coke or something. And somebody throwed a fire cracker underneath another guy up there and I jumped up and run out the building just as hard as I could go. Before I could stop and think, I was out of the building.

LO:  I can understand that. Do you think that the soldiers coming out of World War II, having the GI Bill and what was it called fifty-two something, where you got so much money fifty-two weeks?

JW:  52/20.

LO:  And do you think that coming out of World War II, that y'all were treated better than the ones coming out of the Iraq War, for example?

WT:  Well, I don't know. I really couldn't say. I really don't know what benefits the ones now out of, like Korea, and what they got, and now then, we don't know yet what they'll get from this war, I guess, in Iraq. But they helped us some, you know, that GI Bill they called it, helped us quite a bit. We got so much a month there for a while.

LO:  Did you feel that the government did you right as a soldier? 20

WT:  Yeah, yeah, I did. I didn't have any hard feelings towards the government not at all.

LO:  Did you feel like you benefited from joining the Air Force?

WT:  Well, I guess I never really stopped to think about it; but I did benefit from it. I got better education going through that nearly a year of that cadet training, and I think I did benefit some from it, I really did.

LO:  You went through a lot.

WT:  Well, yeah. At the time, though, it's just something that you got to do and you just do it.

LO:  Did your sons go into service?

WT:  No, neither one of them did. Didn't work out either one of them for the Korean War or the other one, what's the other one?

JW:  Viet Nam.

LO:  Were you glad?

WT:  Yeah, I was, I was sure glad they didn't have to go because those were two wars I didn't think were necessary, just like I don't think this one is Iraq is necessary.

CB:  Lots of people agree with that.

WT:  Yeah, I just don't think that's necessary at all. I really regret all those lives that we're losing over there.

CB:  I regret the hard feelings that we're accumulating from everybody in the world.

WT:  Yeah.

JW:  No end in sight.

WT:  No end in sight.

LO:  Do you attend any reunions?

WT:  No, I haven't. Now I've had some high school reunions.

LO:  But none from the service?

WT:  No, none from service.

LO:  Did you keep up with any of your crew?

WT:  Not really. The pilot, I kept up, his name was Molder, I kept up with him for a few years. And then a guy named Hukelo was the gunner, waist gunner, I believe. But as the years went by, they went their ways. Most of them was from up north, none of them southerners like me. But they're all good guys, I loved them all. We got some pictures of them there, all of them, but I didn't really keep up with them but maybe for five, eight, ten years maybe. After that, we just sort of went our own ways.

LO:  How did you feel when Truman dropped the bomb?

WT:  Well, I felt like it was justified. I think it saved a lot of lives in the long run, saved a lot of American lives, too. Course it cost a lot of Japanese lives and lot of innocent people there, but I 21 felt like it was justified. I felt like that's something that needed to be done.

LO:  Do you recall the day the war ended?

WT:  Yeah, just vaguely. I remember when it ended for me, you know, there when they come in, that was a great day for me when Patton's 3rd Army liberated us down in Moosberg, Germany.

LO:  That had to be something special, General Patton.

WT:  I remember, course, the other days. It didn't mean that much to me then. I was glad it was all over when they finally, Japan finally gave up.

LO:  How do you think your experience affected the rest of your life?

WT:  Well, I think it made me a better person in a way. I was saved as a Protestant, you know, Baptist Church, when I was fourteen and I had my faith all during that time. It helped me a whole lot and still got it. And I think that that helped me through some of those times pretty well. And then course when I came home and got a job and started, and got my own business after two years, we had some hard years, struggling years; but as time went by, we did better. And now then we're fairly well off financially, and good Lord's been real good to us. We've been married sixty-four years. Isn't that something. Sure is, I wouldn't trade her for four twenty year olds. As Norma says, what would you do with them. We've had a great marriage, really have, had four great kids. NT:  Could have been so different if you hadn't got back okay, couldn't imagine life without you.

LO:  But you've had a good life?

WT:  Yeah, we've had a real good life, sure have.

LO:  What do you think is the most relevant problem facing our country today?

WT:  Well, the war in Iraq, I think is the biggest problem we've got. It's changing everything, it's making us go in debt real bad and it's costing us lives. That's the first thing I'd say is the lives that we're losing over there. And I just don't think we're going to accomplish much.

LO:  Is it because they're different people from the Germans and the Japanese, I mean with their religion and tribal thinking?

WT:  Yeah, I think that's what it is, that their religion is different and they think we're infidels, they just don't like us and they really show it in a lot of ways over there in Iraq. And course, just looking at what 9/11 terrorists did to us, so I don't know if we'll ever get along or not. I don't really think we'll ever get along until Jesus comes back to this old Earth.

LO:  What would you tell the young people today, what would be your piece of wisdom you'd tell a young man if he came to you and said share your wisdom.

WT:  Well, I guess I'd tell him to love the Lord and try to live a good life, good Christian life, and be honest to your fellow man. I 22 guess that's about all.

LO:  Be a wonderful world if everybody did that.

WT:  Yeah, it would, wouldn't it?  Sure would.

CB:  I think we've just got all the information. It's been such a good interview. Great, great interview.

WT:  I hope I answered your questions. I'm a little more forgetful now than I was back then.

LO:  I can't tell you how much we appreciate your taking your time to do this and how much we appreciate your going to war.

WT:  Well, I appreciate you telling me that. That's real nice to be appreciated. It's been a long time ago, and for years there, there wasn't much said or done or anybody told you that they appreciated you or anything there for all those years. And seemed like in the last five years or so, people, I guess it's because we're a vanishing group, World War II veterans will be gone in another-- Well, they're pretty well, I guess two thirds of them are gone now, don't you imagine? At least.

JW:  When I was growing up, every man had been to World War II, so there wasn't much reason to say how many of you had been to World War II because everybody had been.

WT:  Everybody was of the right age.

JW:  It was real unusual to run across somebody's daddy who hadn't been to World War II. And so I know everybody came back and got busy building houses and businesses and raising a family.

WT:  I started to say, there just wasn't much--

JW:  Wasn't much time to stop.

WT:  Then they had that Korean War.

LO:  Well, too, for me, I see that we don't have the same caliber of people anymore of your generation. We don't have that.

CB:  There's not the patriotism.

LO:  It's not the patriotism, it's not the hard work, it's not the saving, it's not the family values, it's not the Christian values.

WT:  You're right.

LO:  The world has changed.

JW:  We've also not had such a clear-cut thing like World War II. Just real hard to figure out how you could have done something different besides go to war in 1941.

WT:  That's right.

JW:  And everything since then has seemed to be kind of not so black and white, it's hard to get behind or against because it's just confusing.

WT:  You're right.

LO:  I thought for awhile when 9/11 happened, that our country would once again pull together and that the fiber of the people would 23 become strong again, but it didn't happen.

WT:  No, it didn't happen, sure didn't.

LO:  And it's just, it's not the same. I grew up looking up to and respecting your generation. My children don't have that generation to look up to, and my grandchildren don't have it.

WT:  No, you're right. No, the old saying is you got to watch your back now because there's somebody out there trying to take your money away from you or cheat you some way.

CB:  That's why we've started this project with the Historical Society. We feel like it's so important to document the people of your generation and to understand what your values are and why you did what you did and we want it on tape.

WT:  That's great, yeah.

LO:  And it's not taught in the homes anymore, like I was taught by a mother and a grandmother that went through the Depression, that went through the war, and I'm still a thrifty, thrifty person, and I still have my Christian values. But kids today, they don't get it at home, they don't get it at school, so they're going to have to kind find it themselves.

WT:  You're just right as you can be. Oh, yeah, I can remember the Depression. We lived in a little town of Flippin and I was about nine, ten, eleven years old in there. I remember going, my mother sent me up to the grocery store to get some groceries. We traded with this grocery man, this is just a small grocery store. And I went in there to get them groceries and that grocery man says, "Wayne," said, "you tell your daddy that I can't give him no more credit until he pays some on his bill." And boy, I cried all the way home. I thought we was really in big trouble.

CB:  You never forget that, do you?

WT:  I never forget that. And course, my dad went up there and talked to him and brought home the groceries. But he worked some and paid his bills sooner or later, he was a man that paid his bills, good man. It was a bad Depression, boy, it was tough, really was.

JW:  Your want-to couldn't produce the money to pay the bills.

WT:  That's right, that's right. Work just wasn't there, nobody would hire you and just wasn't no jobs hardly.

LO:  Lot of people went hungry.

WT:  Yeah, they did.

CB:  Tell you we ate differently. I can remember having corn bread and milk for supper and fried baloney or fried Spam.

WT:  Oh, yeah, yeah.

LO:  Do you mind if I get your picture?

WT:  No, go right ahead. 1 MR. USSERY:  GOOD MORNING. I'LL TRY TO NOT TAKE TOO LONG. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE 455TH BOMB GROUP, AND I BROUGHT A COPY OF THE HISTORY OF THAT BOMB GROUP. IT WAS IN THE 15TH AIR FORCE, THE 304TH WING, IT WAS IN ITALY. IT WAS UNIQUE IN QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT WAYS AND I'LL GIVE YOU A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF IT. OUR OFFICERS OF THE SQUADRON AND THE GROUPS, THE PRINCIPAL OFFICERS, WERE PEOPLE THAT HAD COMPLETED THEIR BOMBING MISSIONS, THEIR TOUR OF DUTY IN THE 8TH AIR FORCE, B-24S. SOME OF THEM HAD COMPLETED MORE THAN A TOUR OF DUTY. AND SOME OF THEM WERE OFFICERS THAT FLEW IN THE NORTH AFRICAN CAMPAIGN IN B-24S IN LATE '42 AND THROUGH '43. AND WE HAD EXTRA OFFICERS. THEY WERE, TO A MAN, EITHER LIEUTENANT COLONELS, OR BIRD COLONELS, AND THEY WOULD ALTERNATE AS LEADERS OF THE FLIGHTS, OR IN THE CAPACITY OF PILOTS, CO-PILOTS, BOMBARDIERS AND NAVIGATORS. SO WE HAD EXPERIENCED LEADERSHIP. OUR GROUP COMMANDER, WHEN IT STARTED OUT, WAS A COLONEL COOL. AND AFTER THE FIRST MONTH, HE WAS PROMOTED TO A BRIGADIER GENERAL. WE WERE ONE OF THE FEW GROUPS THAT HAD A GENERAL AS A COMMANDING OFFICER. AND THE NAVIGATOR, THE LEAD NAVIGATOR OF OUR GROUP, WAS CALLED BACK TO WASHINGTON JUST BEFORE THE END OF THE WAR AND WAS PRESENTED THE LEGION OF MERIT AWARD FOR THE MOST ACCURATE BOMBARDIER IN THE EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS WHICH INCLUDED THE 15TH AND THE 8TH. OUR GROUP WON OVER SIXTY PERCENT OF THE AWARDS WHICH WERE MADE MONTHLY FOR BOMBING ACCURACY IN THE ENTIRE 15TH AIR FORCE. AND IT WASN'T ONLY TO THIS ONE MAN, IT WAS TO OUR SUPERB PILOTS AND THE NAVIGATION; BUT IT'S SOMETHING THAT EVERYBODY THAT WAS A MEMBER OF THE 455TH WAS CERTAINLY PROUD OF. OUR BOMBING PERCENTAGE WITHIN A THOUSAND YARDS OF THE CENTER OF THE TARGET WAS SOMETHING LIKE 78 PERCENT THROUGH THE ENTIRE LIFE OF THE 15TH AIR FORCE. NOW, OUR LOGO WAS GIVEN TO US, THE NAME PINNED ON US BY THE OTHER GROUPS AROUND US, WE WERE CALLED THE VULGAR VULTURES. NOW, WHY, I DON'T KNOW; BUT IT SHOWS A BUZZARD RIDING A BOMB. AND THAT'S WHAT THEY CALLED US, THE VULGAR VULTURES. WE HAVE REUNIONS EVERY TWO YEARS AND HAVE EVER SINCE THE WAR. AND SOME OF THOSE COLONELS THAT COME FROM THE 8TH AIR FORCE IN THE NORTH AFRICAN CAMPAIGN PUT THIS HISTORY TOGETHER. IT CONTAINS THE DATE, THE DESTINATION OF THE MISSION, AND A BRIEF SUMMARY OF EVERY MISSION THAT WE FLEW. AND COURSE SOME OF US DIDN'T MAKE ALL THOSE MISSIONS, LIKE MYSELF; THEY GOT TAKEN OUT OF IT. BUT TO START WITH THE HORROR STORY PART OF IT, MAY 24TH, 1944, OUR TARGET WAS WIENER NEUSTADT. AND WEINER NEUSTADT WAS, I WOULD SAY, COMPARABLE TO PLOESTI FOR FLAK AND BEING KNOWN AS A ROUGH TARGET, IT WAS A BOOGER. WE WERE FLYING, MY CREW, ANOTHER CREW'S AIRPLANE; WE DIDN'T HAVE OUR OWN THAT DAY. AND WE HAD A BUCKSHEE CO-PILOT WHICH GAVE US BAD LUCK. ANYTIME THAT YOU HAD A BUCKSHEE OR AN EXTRA CREWMAN FROM SOMEBODY ELSE'S CREW MIXED IN WITH YOUR CREW, IT WAS AN OMEN, AT LEAST TO US, OF BAD LUCK, WE JUST FELT THAT. BUT WE HAD A CO-PILOT ASSIGNED AS 1ST PILOT, HE WAS A 1ST LIEUTENANT CO-PILOT, HIS NAME WAS JONES AND HE WAS ASSIGNED AS OUR 1ST PILOT THAT DAY. AND ORDERED THAT HE HAD TO FLY SOME MISSIONS AS 1ST PILOT IN ORDER TO BE PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN BEFORE HE ROTATED BACK TO THE STATES, AND HE HAD IN 47 MISSIONS. THIS PARTICULAR MISSION WOULD HAVE BEEN COUNTED AS TWO. A LONG MISSION GAVE US CREDIT FOR TWO SORTIES OR TWO MISSIONS. SO IF HE'D HAVE COMPLETED THIS ONE, HE'D HAD 49, AND WE RECORD 50 TO COME HOME. BUT ON THE WAY TO THE TARGET, THE PLANE KEPT VEERING TO THE 2 RIGHT SUDDENLY FROM TIME TO TIME. AND FINALLY, HE PULLED TO THE RIGHT, OUT OF THE FORMATION, DROPPED BACK AND FELL BEHIND THE MAIN GROUP. AND THE PROBLEM WAS THAT THE RIGHT LANDING GEAR ON THAT B-24 THAT WE WERE FLYING THAT DAY, THE NAME OF IT WAS BUCKET OF BOLTS, THE RIGHT LANDING GEAR WOULD JUST INADVERTENTLY FALL DOWN FROM TIME TO TIME OUT OF POSITION INTO A DOWN POSITION AND THAT WOULD JERK THE PLANE. AND WE HAD TO GET IT OUT OF THE FORMATION AND GET IT BEHIND TO KEEP FROM JERKING INTO ANOTHER PLANE. WELL, THAT PUT US IN A POSITION OVER THE TARGET WHERE THEY DUMPED OUT THE CHAFF OR THE LITTLE TIN FOIL, THAT PUT US IN A POSITION OF BEING LOW IN AND TO THE REAR. AND THE GUYS UP FRONT WOULD DUMP THE CHAFF OUT AND IT WAS FLOATING ALL AROUND US, AND IT ATTRACTED THE RADAR FIRE, AND WE GOT IT. I WANT TO SAY COUPLE OF WORDS ABOUT MY POSITION. I WAS ENGINEER, TOP TURRET GUNNER. I SAT IN THE TOP TURRET AND I HAD A PLEXIGLAS DOME AROUND MY SHOULDERS AND MY HEAD, HAD TWO 50 CALIBER MACHINE GUNS, AND I SAT UP IN THAT DOME. AND FROM THAT POSITION, YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD EITHER SIDE, UP OR DOWN AND LOOK BACK. AND IT WAS A SIGHT TO SEE WHEN YOU WERE LIKE IN THE CENTER OF THE BOMBER'S TREE ON A MAJOR EFFORT TARGET. AS FAR AS THE EYE COULD SEE, YOU COULDN'T SEE NOTHING BUT BOMBERS, FORWARD AND BACK. AND IT WAS A GOOD POSITION TO ME BECAUSE THE TAIL GUNNER, ALL HE COULD DO IS LOOK BACK, HE DIDN'T KNOW WHETHER PEOPLE WERE STILL AHEAD OF HIM OR NOT. AND THE NOSE GUNNER, ALL HE COULD DO IS LOOK AHEAD, HE COULDN'T SEE BACK. BUT IN MY POSITION, I HAD A VIEW OF ALL OF IT, I COULD SEE THE WHOLE WORKS. BUT ANYWAY, ON MAY THE 24TH, COMING INTO THE TARGET, WE WERE FLYING HIGH FOR A 24, AT ABOUT TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND FEET. AND WE GOT HIT IN THE NOSE AND WE GOT HIT BETWEEN THE FLIGHT DECK AND THE RIGHT IN-BOARD ENGINE, RIGHT NEAR THE RADIO OPERATOR'S TABLE, WHO WAS, THE POSITION THAT DAY WAS OCCUPIED BY THE NAVIGATOR. AND THAT SHELL BURSTED MY TURRET, THE PLEXIGLAS, IT JUST WENT INTO A MILLION PIECES. AND I HAD ON AN OLD STEEL INFANTRY HELMET THAT WE WORE OVER THE TARGET AREAS. AND THAT DOGGONE THING, I DIDN'T HAVE A LINER, AND OVER THE TARGET AREA, THAT OLD HELMET WOULD COME PLUMB DOWN TO YOUR NOSE, AND HAD TO KEEP PUSHING IT UP TO SEE. BUT YOU DIDN'T REALLY LIKE TO LOOK AT ALL THAT STUFF BURSTING AROUND YOU. AND I MEAN TO TELL YOU, IT BUSTED AROUND YOU. AND WHEN THAT PLEXIGLAS BUSTED, THAT OLD HELMET WENT BOUNCING DOWN THE TOP OF THAT AIRPLANE. IT CAME OFF MY HEAD AND BOUNCED DOWN THE TOP OF THE AIRPLANE AND OFF THE REAR END. WELL, THEN THERE WAS A FIRE STARTED ON THE FLIGHT DECK. THE SHELL BURSTED THE HYDRAULIC LINES AND THE OXYGEN LINES, AND WE HAD A HECK OF A FIRE GOING IN THAT FLIGHT DECK. WELL, I GOT OUT OF MY POSITION. THE PILOT WENT TO HOLLERING OVER THE INTERCOM "BAIL OUT, BAIL OUT, BAIL OUT", AND HE PUSHED THE BELL THAT WARNED THE BAIL OUT. AND I GOT DOWN OUT OF MY POSITION AND THERE WAS A DOOR AT THE BACK OF THE FLIGHT DECK. THE DOOR WAS THREE QUARTER INCH BIRCH PLYWOOD, IT COME DOWN ON TOP OF A DOOR THAT FIT IN THE BOTTOM OF THE FLIGHT DECK. AND THIS TOP DOOR HAD TO BE RAISED TO RAISE THE LOWER DOOR. YOU HAD TO PUSH IT UP TO RAISE THE LOWER DOOR. AND SOME OF THEM WAS RED, AND SOME OF THEM GREEN AND YELLOW, DIFFERENT COLORS FOR DIFFERENT EMERGENCY THINGS. AND THAT MADE SOME FIREWORKS SURE ENOUGH. BUT THE FACT THAT MY TURRET BURSTED, THE FLAME AND THE SMOKE WAS SUCKING OUT THE TOP OF THAT HOLE, IT WAS GOING RIGHT ON OUT. BUT ANYWAY, I KINDLY BACKED OFF, AWAY FROM THAT DOOR THAT WAS STUCK, AND SOMETHING TOLD ME TO LAY ON MY BACK AND KICK IT AND I DID. AND I WAS 3 ABLE TO BURST THAT PLYWOOD AND GET THAT DOOR UP AND RAISE THE OTHER DOOR. WELL, MY PANT LEGS, BY THAT TIME, OF MY FLYING SUIT, WAS ON FIRE. AND THE PILOT WENT BY ME OUT ONTO THE CATWALK INTO THE BOMB BAY. AND WHEN I SAW HIM COUPLE YEARS AGO IN COLORADO SPRINGS, HE TOLD ME THAT HE WAS SURE GLAD TO SEE ME WHEN WE GOT ON THE GROUND BECAUSE THE LAST TIME HE SAW ME, HE SAID, "YOUR BRITCHES WAS ON FIRE." BUT HE WENT HOME. BUT ANYWAY, I KNEW I HAD TO PUT THEM BRITCHES OUT BEFORE I JUMPED OUT OF THAT THING. AND I DID, I GOT THEM OUT AND I BAILED OUT. AND WE WERE PRETTY HIGH, SOME OF THE BOYS DIDN'T MAKE IT. I OPENED MY CHUTE IMMEDIATELY, WHICH WAS A MISTAKE. AND AS I WAS FLOATING DOWN, WELL, THERE WAS ONE OTHER THING. BEFORE I LEFT THE CATWALK, I HAD A CAP WITH A LONG BILL ON IT AND I HAD MY NAME STENCILED ON IT. AND I WENT BACK IN THAT FLIGHT DECK AND GOT THAT THING. NOW, WHY, I DON'T KNOW; BUT I FELT LIKE I HAD TO HAVE THAT CAP. BUT WHEN I PULLED MY PARACHUTE, THE RIPCORD, AND I DONE THAT PRETTY QUICK, IT WAS A TREMENDOUS JERK. MY FEET WENT UP AND ACTUALLY HIT ME IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD. AND MY FLYING BOOTS, I HAD THEM ON OVER MY GI SHOES, AND MY FLYING BOOTS BOTH COME OFF. THEY WAS ZIPPED UP ALMOST TO MY KNEES, BUT THEY COME OFF, THEY WENT A WAY OUT YONDER. AND AT THAT SAME TIME, I LOST MY CAP. AND THIS OLD CAP FILLED WITH AIR AND IT WAS SPINNING AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND, RIGHT UP THERE WITH ME. AND I KEPT TRYING TO GET IT AND THE AIR COME OUT OF IT AND IT JUST COLLAPSED AND THE OLD CAP WENT OFF, I LOST IT. BUT WASN'T BUT JUST TWO OR THREE MINUTES THAT I SAW A GROUP OF B-24S THAT WAS FLYING LOWER THAN WE WERE, COMING BY. AND ONE OF THE PLANES DROPPED OUT OF POSITION A LITTLE BIT AND COME OVER TOWARD WHERE I WAS. AND IT APPEARED THAT THE CO-PILOT, IT APPEARED TO ME THAT HE HAD A CAMERA, THEY COME PRETTY CLOSE. BUT ANYWAY, THE CREW OF THAT PLANE WAVED AT ME, AND THEY GIVE ME THAT, BUT I WENT ON TO THE GROUND. THE PARACHUTE RIDE WAS EXTREMELY QUIET, YOU COULDN'T HEAR NOTHING, IT WAS JUST DEATHLY QUIET. GOT DOWN PRETTY CLOSE TO THE GROUND AND YOU COULD HEAR, IT SOUNDED LIKE COMPRESSED AIR, JUST A LITTLE PSHT, YOU KNOW, LIKE THAT, AND THEN A LITTLE POP. AND THE POP WAS ABOVE ME, AND EVERYTIME I COULD HEAR THAT, I LOOKED UP AND THERE WOULD BE A LITTLE BLACK SPOT IN MY PARACHUTE. WELL, I KNEW THEN THAT I WAS GETTING SHOT AT. SO I STARTED JERKING ON THOSE LINES AND I GOT THAT THING SWINGING PRETTY GOOD AND I MADE IT ON TO THE GROUND AND COME DOWN IN AN AREA WHERE THEY WERE DOING TRUCK PATCH WORK. AND THERE WAS AN OLD LADY JUST RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME AS I COME DOWN. AND SHE LOOKED UP AND SAW ME, AND SHE CRAWLED THE LENGTH OF THIS ROOM, CRAWLING ON HER HANDS AND KNEES BEFORE SHE COULD EVER SLOW DOWN ENOUGH TO RUN, SHE TOOK OFF. I HIT THE GROUND AND ROLLED OVER A FEW TIMES AND GOT MY PARACHUTE COLLAPSED. AND THERE WAS PEOPLE WORKING THEIR GARDENS AND STUFF AROUND THERE AND THEY CAME RUNNING UP THERE. A MAN WANTED TO KNOW IF ENGLISH OR AMERICANA, ENGLISH OR AMERICANA, AND I TOLD HIM I WAS AMERICAN. HE SHOOK HANDS. AND PRETTY QUICK, THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, AND I TOOK IT TO BE HIS SON, ABOUT TWELVE YEARS OLD, COME RUNNING UP THERE. AND HE HAD A SPADING FORK AND HE HAD THAT OLD SPADING FORK DRAWED BACK AND HE WAS JUST SCREAMING AND HOLLERING AND CARRYING ON SOMETHING TERRIBLE. AND I THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO TRY TO HIT ME WITH THAT SPADING FORK. AND I'D ALREADY TAKEN MY HARNESS OFF, MY PARACHUTE HARNESS, I HAD ON A 4 CHEST CHUTE, AND I ROLLED THAT UP. AND IT HAD GREAT BIG OLD BUCKLES ON IT, AS YOU GUYS THAT BAILED OUT KNOW THAT THOSE PARACHUTE BUCKLES ARE HEAVY. AND I ROLLED THAT THING UP AND HE COME AT ME WITH THAT FORK AND I COME DOWN OVER HIS EARS WITH THAT HARNESS OF THAT PARACHUTE AND IT BACKED HIM OFF. BUT I WASN'T GOING TO STAND THERE AND LET HIM GOUGE ME. AND THERE WAS SEVERAL OTHER PEOPLE GATHERING AROUND. AND I SAW THAT GERMAN HELMET COMING ON A BICYCLE, DOWN A LITTLE OLD TRAIL THERE, HERE HE COME. AND HE ROLLED UP THERE WITHIN ABOUT A HUNDRED FEET OF ME AND HE PARKED HIS BICYCLE, THROWED IT DOWN. HE HAD A RIFLE AND HE BROUGHT THAT THING UP AND HE WAS POINTING IT AT ME, AND HE WAS JUST SQUALLING AND HOLLERING. I COULDN'T SPEAK GERMAN, BUT THIS FELLOW THAT COULD SPEAK ENGLISH THAT WAS IN THE CROWD THERE, HE SAID, "HE WANTS YOU TO PUT YOUR HANDS UP." WELL, I COMPLIED PRETTY QUICK, AND HE WANTED TO SEARCH ME. AND THAT OLD LONG SQUIRREL GUN HE HAD WAS JUST SWINGING IN A CIRCLE RIGHT IN MY FACE AND THAT BARREL LOOKED LIKE A STOVEPIPE. AND HE WOULD REACH UP THERE AND HE WAS TRYING TO SEARCH ME, AND HE WAS HOLLERING "PISTOLA, PISTOLA." AND I KNEW THAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR A PISTOL BECAUSE MOST ALL AIRMEN WERE ISSUED A .45. NOW, WE DIDN'T WEAR OURS, OUR CREW DIDN'T. WE FIGURED IT'D JUST GET US IN TROUBLE AS DEEP INTO GERMANY AND THE OCCUPIED COUNTRIES THAT WE WENT AND WE DIDN'T WEAR OURS. BUT HE KNEW THAT WE NORMALLY HAD THOSE, AND HE'D REACH UP THERE AND TRY TO SEARCH ME AND WHAT NOT, AND HE JUMPED BACK. FINALLY HE GOT ME SEARCHED AND HE TOLD ME TO PICK UP MY PARACHUTE, AND THIS OTHER GUY THERE TOLD ME WHAT HE SAID. AND MY LEFT FOOT WAS HURTING ME REAL, REAL BAD, I'D BEEN HIT IN THE LEFT LEG, AND THROUGH THE BOTTOM OF MY FLYING BOOT AND BOOT. AND HE HEADED ME OFF DOWN THIS ROAD, FOLLOWING ME. AND ONE OF THE OTHER GUYS GOT HIS BICYCLE AND WAS PUSHING IT ALONG BEHIND US. WE WENT ABOUT A MILE, COME TO A LITTLE OLD VILLAGE, AND YOU NEVER SEEN THE LIKE OF WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE COME OUT THERE. AND EVERY ONE OF THEM HAD A KNIFE OR A PAIR OF SCISSORS, MOST OF THEM SCISSORS, AND IT KINDLY BOTHERED ME BECAUSE THEY KEPT COMING. AND WHAT THEY WANTED WAS MY PARACHUTE, AND THEY CUT THAT THING TO SHREDS. I WAS KIND OF GLAD THEY DID BECAUSE IT WAS PRETTY HEAVY DRAGGING. AND THEY GOT EVERY BIT OF IT AND KINDLY FUMBLED AROUND THERE LOOKING FOR MORE. AND AS I WENT ON THROUGH THAT VILLAGE AND A NEXT ONE, THEY TOOK ME UP ON A HILL WHERE THERE WAS A RADAR, GERMAN RADAR OPERATION. BUT IN THE MEANTIME, BEFORE I GOT TO THAT FIRST VILLAGE, SITTING UNDER SOME BUSHES, TWO GERMAN SOLDIERS GOT UP AND FOLLOWED ALONG BEHIND. AND THEY WASN'T OVER A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YARDS FROM WHERE I HIT THE GROUND, BUT THEY WERE HID UNDER THOSE BUSHES. AND I KIND OF FIGURED THAT THEY WERE THE TWO THAT WERE SHOOTING AT ME UP THERE IN THE PARACHUTE, I DON'T KNOW. BUT ANYWAY, MY FOOT WAS INJURED AND MY LEFT LEG. AND THEY TOOK ME UP TO THIS RADAR INSTALLATION. AND THEY HAD SOME HOLES DUG UP THERE ABOUT THAT BIG A SQUARE AND THEY WERE PRETTY DEEP. AND THEY PICKED ME UP BY THE ARMS AND PUT ME DOWN IN ONE OF THOSE HOLES WITH MY HANDS DOWN BESIDE ME. WELL, I WAS CRAMMED IN THERE, THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD GET OUT OF THAT THING, ABSOLUTELY NO WAY. AND THIS GERMAN THAT WAS IN CHARGE, HE BLABS OFF AT ME AND TOLD ME THE USUAL THAT I'D BE HOME IN A FEW WEEKS AND THE WAR WOULD BE OVER, THEY WERE GOING TO 5 WIN IT AND ALL THIS KIND OF STUFF. AND THEN HE HOLLERED AT SOME OF THOSE OTHER GERMANS THERE AND HE LINED FIVE OF THEM UP WITH RIFLES RIGHT THERE BY ME. AND HE GIVE THEM THE COMMAND TO ABOUT-FACE, MARCHED THEM OUT MAYBE HALF THE LENGTH OF THIS ROOM AND HALTED THEM, TURNED THEM AROUND, GIVE THEM SOME OTHER ORDERS, AND THEY COME UP WITH THEM RIFLES RIGHT AT ME. AND HE GIVE THEM ANOTHER ORDER, AND BOY, THEY WORKED THAT OLD BOLT. AND I THOUGHT, WELL, THIS IS IT. AND THEN HE SAID SOMETHING ELSE TO THEM AND THEY DROPPED THEIR RIFLES AND HE COME BACK UP THERE WHERE I WAS AT, JUST DYING LAUGHING. GOD, HE'D HAD HIM A JOKE BECAUSE HE KNEW HE'D SCARED ME HALF TO DEATH. AND IT WAS FUNNY, IT WAS KIND OF FUNNY TO ME, TOO. ANYWAY, A GROUP OF B-17S COME OVER THE SAME TARGET, WAY HIGH AND A WAY BACK UP THERE, AND THEY GOT REAL BUSY RUNNING THOSE RADAR THINGS AND WHAT HAVE YOU. AND I WAS OUT IN THAT HOLE, THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ME, THEY HAD ME. AND THEY SHOT ONE OF THE B-17S DOWN. AND THAT THING EXPLODED AND THERE WAS FOUR PIECES OF IT UP THERE, WAY, WAY HIGH. AND ALL FOUR PIECES WAS JUST BURNING LIKE CRAZY UP THERE. AND I KEPT LOOKING FOR PARACHUTES AND I NEVER DID SEE ANY. AND HE CAME BACK OVER WHERE I WAS AND HE TOLD ME, AGAIN, THAT IN A FEW DAYS THAT THE AIR FORCE WOULD BE KAPUT. SHOWED ME THAT ONE, IT WAS STILL FALLING UP THERE. AND I MADE A MISTAKE, I TOLD HIM THAT WE'D HAVE A HUNDRED BACK TO REPLACE THAT ONE, AND THAT MADE HIM MAD, AND HE STARTED KICKING ME. AND THERE WASN'T NOTHING BUT MY HEAD STICKING OUT OF THAT HOLE FOR HIM TO KICK, AND I LOST THREE OR FOUR TEETH. I LEARNED TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT RIGHT THERE. THEY TOOK ME THEN IN THE AFTERNOON, MARCHED ME DOWN TO ANOTHER VILLAGE AND I RUN ACROSS MY PILOT AND MY NAVIGATOR, THEY HAD THEM THERE. AND LONG UP LATE AFTERNOON, THE COMMANDER THERE AT THAT LITTLE HOUSE WHERE THEY HAD THEIR HEADQUARTERS, ASKED ME IF I WAS HUNGRY, AND I TOLD HIM I WAS. AND THEY DIDN'T ASK MY PILOT OR NAVIGATOR, THEY JUST ASKED ME. I TOLD HIM, YEAH, I WAS HUNGRY, I WAS. I HADN'T HAD ANYTHING SINCE THREE O'CLOCK THAT MORNING. AND HE BELLOWED OUT THERE TO A GERMAN PRIVATE. THAT DUDE WENT OUT IN THE GARDEN THERE AND HE PULLED SOME STUFF THAT LOOKED LIKE ONIONS, THEY CALLED IT LEEKS, HAD WADS OF DIRT ON THEM ROOTS LIKE DIRT-DAUBERS'S NEST. HE BROUGHT THAT IN AND DUMPED IT IN A PAN WITH WATER IN IT AND HE PROCEEDED TO COOK ME A LITTLE SOUP, DIRT AND ALL. AND YOU KNOW, HE GIVE ME A SPOON AND I KINDLY LET THE DIRT SETTLE, AND I TOOK A FEW BITES OF IT. MY PILOT AND NAVIGATOR WAS SETTING THERE LOOKING HUNGRY. BUT LATER ON THAT EVENING, THEY BROUGHT A LITTLE CAR ABOUT LIKE A VOLKSWAGEN DOWN, TWO GERMAN SOLDIERS IN IT IN LUFTWAFFE UNIFORMS. AND THEY GOT THE THREE OF US AND LOADED US IN THE BACKSEAT OF THAT LITTLE OLD CAR, I MEAN THEY JAMMED US IN THERE TO GET IN AND DOWN THE ROAD WE WENT. AND I'D NEVER SEEN A KILOMETER SPEEDOMETER BEFORE, MEASURED IN KILOMETERS. THAT KILOMETER'S NOT AS LONG AS A MILE, NOT NEARLY. AND HERE THESE DUDES GO WITH US IN THAT BACKSEAT DOWN THAT COBBLESTONE ROAD AND THAT THING WAS REGISTERING SEVENTY AND SEVENTY-FIVE MILES AN HOUR, I THOUGHT. IT WASN'T RUNNING OVER ABOUT FORTY-FIVE, I DON'T GUESS; BUT GOD, I THOUGHT WE WERE A FLYING. AND THEY TOOK US TO AN AIR BASE UP NEAR THE TARGET THAT WE WERE BOMBING WHICH WAS WIENER NEUSTADT, AND THEY PUT US IN A ROOM AT THE END OF A LONG BARRACKS, GERMAN BARRACKS. AND THEY HAD SOME TOW SACKS THERE ON THE FLOOR, FILLED WITH STRAW. AND THEY LEFT A GUARD IN 6 THE HALL, LOCKED THE DOOR AND BARRED IT, AND THERE WAS A LITTLE WINDOW WAY UP HIGH IN ONE END, WE WERE IN THE END ROOM WITH A WINDOW THAT WENT OUTSIDE. AND WE WEREN'T IN THERE VERY LONG UNTIL IN COME A POTATO THROUGH THAT OPEN HOLE, MAYBE A LITTLE OLD BLACK PIECE OF BREAD OR TWO, AND EGGS, BOILED EGGS, PIECES OF OLD FAT SOW BELLY AND CARROTS AND TURNIPS. AND YOU HAD TO STAY OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHEN THAT WAS COMING THROUGH, AND THEY'D THROW IT IN THERE. AND COME TO FIND OUT, THE PILOT TOLD THEM HE HAD TO GO TO THE RESTROOM, SO THEY TOOK HIM OUTSIDE. AND IT WAS THESE RUSSIAN PRISONERS-OF-WAR THAT HAD THE RUN OF THE AIR BASE THAT WERE THROWING THAT FOOD IN TO US. AND LORD, WE COULDN'T BEGIN TO EAT ALL THEY THREW IN THERE AND WE BEGIN TO HIDE IT UNDER THOSE OLD SACKS. AND THEY TOOK US OUT OF THERE THE NEXT AFTERNOON AND WE HAD ENOUGH IN THERE TO EAT FOR A WEEK OR TWO. AND THEY TOOK US INTO VIENNA, PUT US ON A TRAIN AND WAS GOING TO SEND US, THEY SAID, TO FRANKFURT. ALL THE AIRMEN IN EUROPE WENT TO FRANKFURT FOR INTERROGATION. WELL, THE BRITISH BOMBED THE RAILROADS OUT AT ST. POLTEN, AUSTRIA, AND THEY TOOK US OFF IN ABOUT AN HOUR AND WE HADN'T TRAVELED FAR. AND IT WAS BLACK AS NIGHT AND THEY MARCHED US THROUGH THE STREET THERE TO A JAIL IN ST. POLTEN. THEY PUT ME IN A ROOM THAT WAS ABOUT MAYBE SIX FOOT WIDE OR EIGHT. WENT INTO THAT ROOM AND THEY HAD A ROCK LEDGE ABOUT AS BIG AS THIS TABLE BUILT UP, STRAW ON IT FOR YOUR BED. HAD A REAL DIM LITTLE BULB WAY UP HIGH IN THAT ROOM, CEILING WAS TALL. AND I'D LAY DOWN IN THAT STRAW AND, BOY, THAT'S WHERE THE LICE GOT ME, AND THE FLEAS, ANYTHING THAT'D BITE, AND I HAD A MISERABLE NIGHT. AND YOU COULD LAY THERE AND YOU COULD HEAR THE DARN RATS COMING, PLAYING AROUND IN THAT STRAW IN THAT PLACE. AND THEY KEPT US THERE UNTIL THE NEXT DAY AND THEN THEY TOOK US BY TRUCK OUT TO AN AIR BASE AT ST. POLTEN. WE STAYED THERE A FEW DAYS AND THEN WE WENT ON TO FRANKFURT, WENT THROUGH INTERROGATION. AND THE USUAL, THE FELLOW THAT INTERROGATED, MOST ALL, HE TOLD ME AND A LOT OF THE OTHERS THAT I'VE TALKED TO, THAT IF YOU DIDN'T TELL THEM WHERE YOU WAS OUT OF AND THIS AND THAT AND WHAT NOT AND WHAT HAVE YOU, YOU'D BE TURNED OVER TO THE GESTAPO AND SHOT, AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. AND I'D GIVE THEM MY NAME, RANK AND SERIAL NUMBER AND THAT'S ALL I EVER GIVE THEM. AND YOU KNOW, HE TURNED ME LOOSE OUT OF THAT ROOM, GUARDS COME AND GOT ME, TOOK ME DOWN TO THE END OF THE HALL AND STRIPPED ME OFF AND SEARCHED ME AGAIN AND PUT ME OUT IN A STOCKADE. TWO OR THREE DAYS AFTER THAT, WE WENT TO A FORT WETZLAR, GERMANY. AND THEY KEPT US AROUND THERE ABOUT A WEEK AND THEN WE LOADED ONTO A BOX CAR, AND THAT WAS THE 6TH DAY OF JUNE. AND REASON I KNOW, WHEN WE LOADED INTO THAT LITTLE OLD BOX CAR, ONE OF THE GERMAN GUARDS TOLD ME THAT WE'D BE GOING HOME IN JUST A FEW WEEKS, THAT THE AMERICANS HAD LANDED THAT DAY IN FRANCE, D-DAY. AND THAT SOON AS THEY BEAT THEM OFF AND WHIPPED THEM, WELL, THE WAR WOULD BE OVER. WELL, THEY LOADED US IN THE BOX CAR AND WE WAS ON THAT THING EIGHT DAYS AND NINE NIGHTS. THEY OPENED IT ONE TIME DURING THAT TRIP. THEY GIVE US A COUPLE OF BUCKETS OF WATER IN THERE AND THEY HAD FIFTY-TWO OF US IN THAT LITTLE OLD THING, I BELIEVE. AND WE HAD TO STAND UP AND TAKE TURNS WITH THE GUYS LAYING DOWN THAT WAS GETTING SLEEP OR MAYBE SOME OF US JUST SLEPT STANDING UP. AND WE FINALLY GOT TO THE PRISON CAMP WHICH WAS STALAG LUFT 4. WHEN WE GOT THERE, WELL, 7 COURSE WE WERE UNLOADED AND THEY DOUBLE-TIMED US FROM THE UNLOADING PLACE TO THE CAMP, WHICH WAS, I DON'T KNOW, TWO, THREE MILES, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. TOOK US INTO THE VORLAGER AND STRIPPED US OFF AND SEARCHED US AGAIN. AND WE'D HAD, DURING THAT EIGHT DAYS OR NINE DAYS, TWO BLOOD SAUSAGES ABOUT THAT LONG, FOR FIFTY MEN OR FIFTY-TWO. AND THEY PUT IN THERE FEW LOAVES OF BLACK BREAD. I DON'T REMEMBER GETTING A BITE OF IT. BUT ANYWAY, WHEN WE GOT IN THE VORLAGER WHERE WE WERE STRIPPED, THAT'S THE FIRST OCCASION I HAD TO MEET I GUESS THE MOST FAMOUS GUARD IN STALAG LUFT 4, AND THAT WAS A FELLOW WE ALL NICKNAMED AND CALLED BIG STOOP. BOY, HE WAS A DANDY, HE WAS A GIANT OF A MAN. AND HE WAS SLAPPING THE GUYS AROUND AND KICKING THEM AND BEATING THEM AND HE WAS JUST HORRIBLE. AND WHEN THEY GOT THROUGH WITH US IN THE VORLAGER, WE KEPT THINKING WE WERE GOING TO GET SOMETHING TO EAT AND THEY MOVED US INSIDE THE COMPOUND. AND THE COMPOUND, THE BARRACKS THAT I WENT IN THAT WAS JUST STARTING TO ACCEPT PRISONERS THERE, AND I WENT INTO BARRACKS ONE, JUST INSIDE THE GATE, ROOM FOUR. AND NOTHING TO EAT THAT NIGHT YET. THE NEXT MORNING, WE GOT A PITCHER, A GREAT BIG OLD PITCHER FULL OF WARM WATER, NOTHING ELSE. AND AT NOON, WE GOT A LITTLE OLD POTATO ABOUT LIKE THAT. AND AT NIGHT, WE GOT SOME KIND OF A PITCHER FOR THAT ROOM FULL OF MEN FULL OF SOME KIND OF OLD WATERY SOUP. AND THAT WAS PRIMARILY OUR DIET THAT THE GERMANS GIVE US, EXCEPT ABOUT ONCE EVERY SEVEN OR EIGHT DAYS, THEY'D MAKE A BREAD RATION ISSUE AND IT FINALLY TURNED OUT TO BE SEVEN LOAVES OF BREAD FOR TWENTY-FOUR MEN FOR EIGHT DAYS. AND OF A MORNING, SOMETIMES WE'D GET WHAT WE CALLED ERSATZ COFFEE. IT WASN'T REGULAR COFFEE, IT WAS A FICTITIOUS TYPE COFFEE. AND OUR BEDS HAD SIX SLATS, IT WAS ABOUT THAT WIDE; AND OUR MATTRESS WAS A TOW SACK FILLED WITH STRAW, WHICH SOON GOT ALL MASHED DOWN. AND THEY WOULD INSPECT FROM TIME TO TIME TO SEE THAT WE STILL HAD THOSE SIX SLATS BECAUSE THE GUYS THAT DUG TUNNELS AND WHAT NOT, WOULD USE THOSE SLATS TO SHORE UP THE TUNNELS. BUT WE HAD BED INSPECTIONS FROM TIME TO TIME. AND THAT WASN'T TOO EASY TO CURL UP ON AND SLEEP. AND THAT OLD STRAW FROM THE GUY ABOVE YOU DRIPPING DOWN ON YOU IN YOUR EYES AND YOUR MOUTH ALL NIGHT. BUT OUR RATIONS WAS JUST VERY MEAGER, VERY MEAGER. WE HAD NO TOILET TISSUE OF ANY KIND. WE HAD NO BATHING FACILITIES, NO WAY TO TAKE A BATH, NO SHOWERS, NOTHING TO BATHE WITH. WE HAD AN EXTRA BUCKET AND THIS OLD PITCHER FOR THE TWENTY-FOUR MEN. AND WE HAD A GUY THAT'D GO OVER TO THE KITCHEN AND GET OUR RATION FOR THAT ROOM AT MEALTIME EACH TIME. AND THEY HAD TWO HEADCOUNTS A DAY, ONE OF A MORNING AND ONE OF AN EVENING. AND THEY ALWAYS LINED THEM UP BY FIVES, BECAUSE THAT SEEMED TO BE THE ONLY WAY THE GERMANS COULD COUNT, WAS FIVE, TEN, TWENTY, LIKE THAT. WE STAYED THERE UNTIL FEBRUARY THE 6TH, 1945. THAT WAS WHEN, EARLY PART OF JUNE, 1944, THAT I GOT THERE. AND THEY CONTINUALLY TOOK IN OTHER PRISONERS AND EVEN ANOTHER PRISON CAMP, STALAG LUFT 6 MOVED IN THERE. SO THE CAMP HAD A LOT OF MEN IN IT, SEVERAL THOUSAND. AND WE COULD HEAR THE RUSSIAN GUNS, ARTILLERY. BUT THEY MARCHED US OUT AND THEY TOLD US THAT WE'D BE ON THE ROAD ABOUT TEN DAYS. AND THEY GIVE US, EACH ONE OF US, A CAN OF BULLY BEEF, TIN ABOUT THAT LONG AND ABOUT SO BIG AROUND, ABOUT LIKE A COFFEE CAN THAT WE USE NOW, AND TOLD US THAT THAT WOULD BE OUR RATION. AND WE DID HAVE SOME RED CROSS 8 PARCELS, A LITTLE BIT OF STUFF OUT OF THE RED CROSS. AND COURSE WE TOOK ALL OUR LICE WITH US. AND WE MARCHED OUT ON THE 6TH OF FEBRUARY, DEEP SNOW, COLD. AND THAT NIGHT, I MADE THE MISTAKE OF TAKING OFF MY SHOES. AND THE NEXT MORNING, I COULDN'T GET THEM BOOGERS ON. BOY, I WORKED ON THAT TO NO END. FINALLY GOT THEM ON WITHOUT LACES IN THEM. AND WE STAYED MARCHING FOR EIGHTY-EIGHT DAYS, UP ALONG THE BALTIC SEA. WE DID GET INTO FALLINGHOSTEL CAMP FOR THREE DAYS, BUT WE SLEPT IN THE MUD AND OUTSIDE IN THE RAIN THERE. THERE WAS NO TENTS, NO ROOMS IN ANY OF THE BUILDINGS OR ANYTHING. AND THEY MARCHED US BACK OUT OF THERE, AND WE MARCHED BACK ACROSS THE ELBE RIVER. AND ALL THIS TIME THERE WAS GUYS WITH DYSENTERY THAT TURNED TO BLOOD AND DIDN'T MAKE IT. AND IT WASN'T EASY. AND 2ND DAY OF MAY, ALONG SHORTLY AFTER NOON, THEY GIVE US A REST THAT DAY, THEY DIDN'T MARCH US THAT DAY. AND SHORTLY AFTER NOON, THERE WAS A GERMAN STAFF CAR WITH FOUR GERMAN OFFICERS IN IT, HAD A CONVERTIBLE TOP AND THE TOP WAS LAID BACK, CAME DOWN THAT LITTLE OLD ROAD AND HE WAS A MOGULLING. AND RIGHT BEHIND IT WAS AN AMERICAN JEEP, MANNED BY BRITISH SOLDIERS, AND THEY WERE FIRING AT THAT DUDE. AND I MEAN THEY WERE TRYING TO WORK THE TAIL END OF THAT GERMAN STAFF CAR OVER. THEY WENT RIGHT ON BY. AND, MAN, THE MINUTE THEY WENT BY, WE TOOK OUR GERMAN GUARDS' GUNS RIGHT THERE, WE GOT THEM AND WE STARTED CELEBRATING. IN A FEW MINUTES, THERE WAS ANOTHER BRITISH WEAPONS CARRIER WAGON COME BY. AND THEY STOPPED AND THEY TOLD US TO STAY THERE THAT NIGHT AND THERE'D BE TRUCKS TO GET US THE NEXT MORNING. AND WITHIN THIRTY OR FORTY MINUTES AFTER THAT, THERE WAS A RUSSIAN LIEUTENANT SHOWED UP WITH A SQUAD OF MEN. AND THEY BUTCHERED A COUPLE OF THAT OLD GERMAN'S COWS, CUT THAT MEAT UP AND BUILT FIRES OUT THERE. IN FACT, THEY BROUGHT ONE OF THEIR HORSEDRAWN FIELD KITCHENS OVER THERE. AND THEY COOKED THAT MEAT AND WHAT NOT AND WHAT HAVE YOU FOR US. AND OUR STOMACHS WERE SHRUNK SO WE COULDN'T EAT. AND THEY GOT KINDLY TEED OFF BECAUSE WE COULDN'T. BUT THE NEXT DAY, WE WAITED AROUND THERE UNTIL ABOUT EIGHT O'CLOCK. AND THE RUSSIANS POSTED GUARD THAT NIGHT AROUND US TO KEEP THE GERMANS FROM THROWING GRENADES IN THERE OR WHAT HAVE YOU THAT THEY SAID THEY MIGHT DO. AND WE PULLED OUT AFOOT, HEADING BACK WEST. I WAS BUDDYING WITH AN OLD BOY OUT OF TULARE, CALIFORNIA, THAT WE CALLED DUMB JOHN. AND THEY ALL NICKNAMED ME AS BIG RED. DUMB JOHN AND I WERE GOING OFF DOWN THE ROAD THERE GOING BACK WEST. AND WE SAW A FARMER, A GERMAN FARMER UP THERE ON A TRACTOR ON THE SIDE OF THE HILL THERE NOT TOO FAR FROM THE ROAD. OLD DUMB JOHN SAID TO ME, SAID, "THAT SURE WOULD BEAT WALKING", AND I SAID, "YEAH, I BELIEVE IT WOULD." AND WE PROCEEDED TO GET THAT TRACTOR. DUMB JOHN WHACKED THAT DUDE, HE WASN'T GOING TO GIVE IT TO US AND DUMB JOHN WHACKED HIM WITH A CLUB UPSIDE OF THE HEAD AND TOOK HIM OFF OF THAT TRACTOR. AND WE COULDN'T GO UP ANY HILL, IT WOULDN'T PULL IT, AND THE GUYS WOULD HAVE TO GET OFF AND WALK. AND WE GET TO THE TOP OF A HILL, WE'D STOP AND WAIT ON THEM, THEY'D CATCH UP AND GET BACK ON THE WAGON AND DOWN THE HILL WE'D GO. AND WE MADE IT TO LAUENBERG, MADE IT I GUESS FIFTY KILOMETERS. WE STOLE FUEL FROM DIFFERENT FARMYARDS ALONG THE WAY. AND WE MADE IT IN LAUENBURG AND WE RUN INTO SUPPLY TRUCKS. AND COURSE, THEY TRIED TO GIVE US ORANGES AND CANDY AND STUFF LIKE THAT AND YOU 9 REALLY COULDN'T EAT. BUT ANYWAY, WE CROSSED THE RIVER, THE ELBE RIVER, ON A PONTOON BRIDGE. AND THAT SON-OF-A-GUN WOULD JUST GIVE IT THAT ALL THE WAY ACROSS IT, IT JUST MAKE YOU SO SICK THAT YOU WOULDN'T KNOW WHICH END WAS UP. BUT THERE WAS ONE REASON WHY WE GOT SO SICK WAS WE HAD SOME CIGARETTES THESE TRUCK DRIVERS GIVE US, AND THERE WAS A POLACK THERE THAT WAS A SLAVE LABORER, AND HE WANTED TO TRADE US A BOTTLE OF SCHNAPPS. AND THAT BOTTLE WAS NOT LONG FOR THAT CIGARETTE, WE TRADED. AND THAT STUFF DIDN'T HAVE A LABEL ON IT AND IT WAS JUST CLEAR AS WATER, BUT BOY, YOU PULL THAT LID OFF AND YOU COULD SMELL IT. AND OLD DUMB JOHN AND I DRANK THAT IN THE BACK OF THAT TRUCK ON THAT OLD WOBBLY BRIDGE. I DON'T REMEMBER GETTING OFF THAT BRIDGE. AND FEW DAYS LATER, TWO OR THREE DAYS, I WOKE UP IN A GERMAN CAVALRY BARRACKS, THE NEXT TOWN WHICH ONE TIME HAD BEEN A GERMAN CAVALRY BARRACKS. IT WAS OCCUPIED BY THE BRITISH. AND I WAS IN THE LATRINE AND, GOD, I WAS SICK AND I WAS A MESS. AND OLD DUMB JOHN WAS JUST NOT VERY FAR FROM ME. AND WHEN WE COME TO, WELL, THE BRITISH SAID THAT THEY'D BEGIN TO WONDER IF WE WERE EVER GOING TO COME TO OR NOT. AND WE SMELLED LIKE THE DICKENS. AND THEY TOOK ALL OUR CLOTHES OFF THAT WE HAD, THEM OLD RAGS, THEM LICE AND WHAT HAVE YOU, AND GIVE US A COMPLETE BRITISH UNIFORM. I MEAN WE LOOKED JUST LIKE BRITISH SOLDIERS. AND THE BRITISH WERE GOING TO FLY US OUT OF THERE. AND WE WENT TO THE AIRPORT ON THEIR TRUCKS FOR FOUR, FIVE DAYS AND THEY KEPT FLYING THEIR OWN BRITISH SOLDIERS OUT AND LEAVING US AND THE CANADIANS THERE. SO DUMB JOHN AND I DECIDED WHAT THE HECK, WE'D HITCHHIKE TO THE AMERICAN LINE, WE'D FIND IT SOMEWHERE. AND WE GOT ON THE BACK OF THE TRUCK AND WHEN WE WENT OUT ON THE HIGHWAY, WE JUST STEPPED OFF AND GIVE IT THE THUMB, AND THE FIRST TRUCK COME ALONG PICKED US UP. AND THEN WE HITCHHIKED PROBABLY A HUNDRED MILES BACK ACROSS EUROPE THERE, MAYBE FARTHER. AND WE FINALLY COME TO THE AMERICANS, AND IT WAS AN INFANTRY REPLACEMENT OUTFIT. THEY WERE IN THE GERMAN BARRACKS THAT WAS DOUBLE-DECKER. AND TOOK US UPSTAIRS AND SAID THEY HAD ROLL CALL TWICE A DAY, BUT FOR US TO STAY UPSTAIRS AND STAY HID, SO WE DID. BUT A LITTLE SHAVETAIL LIEUTENANT COME THROUGH COUPLE DAYS LATER AND FOUND US AND HE TOOK US DOWN TO THE HEADQUARTERS. AND SOME COLONEL DOWN THERE, HE CHEWED AROUND ON US FOR BEING UP THERE IN THAT BARRACKS. BUT HE DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH US, AND HE TOLD US TO STAY THERE AND HE'D BE BACK. WELL, WHEN HE LEFT, WE WENT OUT THE WINDOW. AND WASN'T LONG UNTIL AN MP CHECK-STATION GOT US, AND THEY CALLED FOR A SQUAD CAR, AND THAT SQUAD CAR COME AND GOT US. AND MY BEARD WAS DOWN TO HERE AND HADN'T HAD A HAIRCUT IN A YEAR. I GUESS I LOOKED TERRIBLE. BUT THEY DETAILED THIS SQUAD CAR TO TAKE US TO AN AIR BASE. AND THEY TOOK US TO A P-47 OUTFIT, OUT THERE IN HAMBURG, GERMANY, SOMEWHERE IN THE AREA OF HAMBURG. WELL, THOSE GUYS WERE JUST NICE AS THEY COULD BE. AND THEY GIVE US A BED, BOY, I MEAN A FEATHER BED UPSTAIRS IN A BRICK HOUSE WHICH WAS HEADQUARTERS AND WAS JUST TREATING US ROYALLY. AND OLD DUMB JOHN WOULD EAT SOME OF THAT CHOCOLATE CANDY BARS. AND A WAY IN THE NIGHT, HE WOKE ME UP AND THEY TURNED THE LIGHTS OFF, AND THERE WAS A BATHROOM UP THERE SOMEWHERE, BUT WE COULDN'T FIND IT AND HE'D DONE ALREADY PASSED NEEDING IT. WE FINALLY FOUND THAT BATHROOM BUT WE REALLY HAD TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING 10 AND HE FINALLY GOT CLEANED UP. HE NEEDED A NEW UNIFORM THEN. AND THEY FLEW US THAT DAY IN A C-47 THAT WENT BACK TO ENGLAND EACH DAY, THEY TOOK US TO ENGLAND, THIS P-47 OUTFIT DID. AND WE GOT TO ENGLAND AND THAT COMMANDER OF THAT AIR BASE WOULDN'T HAVE US. HE SAID HE HAD NO FACILITIES FOR US AND DIDN'T WANT US AND HE DISPATCHED THAT PLANE BACK TO FRANCE, TO CAMP LUCKY STRIKE. AND WE WENT BACK ACROSS THE CHANNEL TO LUCKY STRIKE. AND BY THAT TIME, THE LICE HAD DONE GATHERED UP IN THAT NEW UNIFORM REAL GOOD. AND WE GOT BACK TO LUCKY STRIKE AND THEY TURNED US OVER TO AN OUTFIT THAT WAS HANDLING PRISONERS. AND THAT EVENING, THEY TOOK US DOWN ON A CREEK BANK AND TOOK THOSE UNIFORMS OFF OF US AND THEY SPRAYED OUR NUDE BODIES WITH DDT. I MEAN I LOOKED LIKE I'D BEEN SNOWED ON WITH ALL THAT OLD POWDERED DDT. AND THEY STEAMED THOSE AND HAD OVENS FOR THOSE UNIFORMS. AND I BROUGHT MY BRITISH UNIFORM HOME WITH ME, BUT THEY GIVE ME AN AMERICAN UNIFORM. AND I COME BACK HOME ON A LIBERTY BOAT THAT HAD BEEN AROUND THE NORTH END OF SWEDEN AND NORWAY. AND IT HAD BUSTED IN THE CENTER AND THEY'D WELDED PLATES ON IT TO HOLD THE THING TOGETHER. AND THEY HAD PUMPS DOWN IN THE BELLY OF THAT THING. AND AS THE WATER WOULD RUN IN, THEY'D PUMP THE WATER BACK OUT. IT TOOK US FIFTEEN DAYS TO COME FROM LE HAVRE, FRANCE, TO NEW YORK CITY. BUT WHEN WE GOT IN NEW YORK CITY, THEY KEPT US OUTSIDE THE PORT, GOT IN THERE LATE ONE EVENING. AND ALL NIGHT, THERE WAS SOME GUYS COME OUT FROM THE HARBOR THERE AND THEY PUT FLAGS ON THIS BOAT, FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER ON ROPES, THERE WAS SEVERAL STREAMERS OF FLAGS. AND THE NEXT DAY THEY'D RUN US UP AND DOWN THAT DOGGONE HARBOR AND THEY HAD TWO BIG FIREBOATS AHEAD OF US AND ONE BEHIND US, SHOOTING THOSE STREAMS OF WATER UP IN THE AIR. AND THE OTHER BOATS WOULD BLOW THREE TOOTS ON THEIR WHISTLE, AND OUR BOAT'D BLOW ONE. AND THEY RUN US UP AND DOWN THAT HARBOR, THAT SUPPOSED TO BEEN A PARADE JUST ABOUT ALL DAY, AND WE WERE WANTING OFF. AND FINALLY, WE GOT OFF AND WENT TO CAMP KILMER. 19TH DAY OF JUNE, I GOT IN FORT SMITH ON A TROOP TRAIN AND COME INTO THE OLD STATION DOWN THERE AT ROGERS, WHERE THE HOLIDAY INN IS NOW. AND I HEARD SOME HEELS A CLICKING THAT SOUNDED AWFUL FAMILIAR TO ME. AND I'D JUST GOT OFF OF THAT PASSENGER CAR, AND I HEARD THOSE HEELS A CLICKING AND LOOKED UP AND HERE COME GRACE AROUND THE CORNER. SHE'D FOUND OUT SOMEWAY OR ANOTHER THAT I WAS COMING IN. SHE MET ME THERE AT THE STATION, 19TH OF JUNE, 1945. THEY PUT US ON A BUS AND TOOK US TO CHAFFEE. WELL, A FELLOW BY THE NAME OF PENDLETON WOODS AND I COME BACK ON THAT SAME BOAT TOGETHER. THERE WASN'T NO WAY THAT PENDLETON AND I WERE GOING TO STAY IN CHAFFEE, SO WE HEAD OFF ACROSS THE FIELD, COME OUT ON THE WEST END OF CHAFFEE THERE, AND CLIMBED THROUGH THE BARBED WIRE AND COME HOME. AND MEANTIME, GRACE AND HER FOLKS WENT OUT TO CHAFFEE TO GET ME. WELL, I HAD TO BUM ME A RIDE BACK TO CHAFFEE TO GO OUT THERE AND GET THEM. BUT THAT'S ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT. THAT WAS JUST ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT. THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF HAPPENED ON THAT MARCH, LOT OF THINGS HAPPENED. IT WAS MISERABLE, IT WAS BAD, IT WAS COLD. LOT OF GUYS DIDN'T MAKE IT, INCLUDING MY CREW MEMBERS. AND ONE THING ABOUT IT, THEY MARCHED US WEST OUT OF THAT CAMP. IT WAS A WAY OVER IN THE EASTERN PART OF GERMANY. AND EVERY STEP I TOOK WAS ONE MORE STEP TOWARD HOME, AND IT FELT GOOD. THANK YOU 

 

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