This entry contains a sister's memories of stories her brother told of his experiences during WWII. Someone in the family transcribed her account into an email, and I've posted it here. With the Iraq war, I expect our family will have more such stories. Very sad. The horrors of war. I think I would have made a miserable soldier.
My brother Carl was a B-17 Gunner during the 2nd World War. He enlisted in the Air Force after high school. He first served in Great Britain for the Allies before the USA bombing at Pearl Harbor. He told stories about his time in Europe and we watched him try to readjust to life after war. The last time he came home after being in a prison camp in Belgium for 18 months, he spent time in the mental health ward at County Hospital. They thought he was too dangerous to come home and refused to release him. Finally they let him come home for a trial.
He had some scary moments when the pressure pump would clang on and he would drop to the floor and cover his head or grab the broom handle as if it were his weapon. Home was his medicine and he improved soon he was well enough to continue with his military service after the war was over.
The story of his capture and internment in the Belgium Prison Camp happened when his plane was shot down. Carl and his buddy bailed out of the burning plane and while floating down by parachute the enemy fighter planes made passes shooting at the men with parachutes., Carl’s buddy said “man we’re dead” Carl said “yea, like this” and went completely limp as if already shot. His buddy also went limp. Both men were ignored from further attack appearing already dead. Carl landed in the yard of a lady. She could not help him for fear of retaliation.
Carl and his buddy were captured. Carl with a broken leg. They were sent to the prison camp and remained there for 18 month until the Russians liberated them. Carl’s buddy was of Spanish decent and was treated as if he were Jewish, beaten and tortured.. Carl however had a beret hat and looked like a French man and was spared torture. He told of having a zipper from a jacket, which kept him “ from going crazy” because it gave him something to do, zipping it back and forth over and over again.
Another story I remember Carl telling was about a bombing mission. They were attacked by several fighter planes and the nose gunner was killed. The pilot called Carl to take the place of the nose gunner which he did. The fighting was fierce. The B17 made it’s way back to base, and safety, Carl was called to come into the cockpit. He refused. He was reprimanded by the pilot for not coming when called with threats that he would be reported for disobeying direct orders. When the plane landed the captain opened the bay to find Carl out in mid air with his gun but no protection around him, all cover had been blown away. His Pilot was completely stunned that he was in such a state. He was never reprimanded.
His last duties in the military were in the deserts of Nevada where he took part in atom bomb testing. Carl and his wife Florine had three wonderful sons. Carl died in a car wreck in Texas just before his 20th year in the military. We were all proud of how he served our country. I was very close to my brother Carl, we were raised together. I am proud to tell a little of his story.
Our family misses you, Carl, and we thank you for serving our country in WWII.
|The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw|