Remembering my Dad on Veterans Day
November 11 is Veterans Day in the US. My father was a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force.
Daddy enlisted in the US Army Air Corps December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. After training, he was assigned to the 348th Squadron of the 99th Bomb Group, serving as the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 crew. His squadron participated in the North African Campaign, and then the invasion of Sicily, where his plane was shot down July 5, 1943.
Daddy spent 22 months as a German Prisoner of War. After a lengthy stay in a German naval hospital, he was sent to Stalag 17B where he participated in and/or witnessed many of the true events that made their way into the movie "The Great Escape".
If you've seen the movie, you'll probably remember the scene where two prisoners painting lines on the road managed to paint their way out the gate. In real life, that was my father and a buddy--but they were not painting their way into the Russian women's camp as portrayed. They managed to get out the front gate on a legitimate escape attempt, but were quickly recaptured.
Stalag 17B was liberated by Patton's Army in 1945, and Daddy came home, married my mother, and tried his hand at farming before reenlisting in the Air Force in 1948, serving through the Cold War before retiring in 1964.
In 2006, two years before my parents passed away, Daddy took our whole family to Washington, DC. These photos were taken at the World War II Memorial. In the title photo, the US flag flies over the black POW flag with the Washington Monument in the background. (Right click to view the photo larger.) In the second photo, Daddy stands next to the Tunisia and Sicily section of the North Africa Campaign memorial, in which he served.
2014 by Debbi Craton. May not be used without permission. All rights reserved.
Image Credit » Photo (c) 2006 by Debbi Craton. May not be used without permission. All rights reserved.