|Sgt. Wirt Fontenot||Wirt at 72 years of age|
|The front of Wirt''s POW card||The back of Wirt''s POW card|
|Last Name: `
|Street: 1680 HWY 356||City & State: SUNSET, LA||E-Mail:|
|Zip: 70584||Phone: (504) 668-4234||Spouse: MELLIE (MARY) SIBILLE|
|Conflict: WW II||Service Branch: ARMY||Unit: 84 INF DIV 335 REG CO F|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: GERMANY||Date Captured: 12/44|
|Camps Held In: STALAG IIIA AND IIIB||How Long Interned: 151 days|
|liberated / repatriated: liberated||Date Liberated: 05/45||Age at Capture: 22|
|Medals Received: PURPLE HEART MEDAL, POW MEDAL, BRONZE STAR MEDAL, AMERICAN SERVICE MEDAL, WW II VICTORY MEDAL, ETO CAMPAIGN MEDAL, AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, COMBAT INFANTRY BADGE, GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL|
|Military Job: SQUAD LEADER||Company: CENTRAL INDUSTRIES|
|Occupation after War: FIELD SUPPORT, OIL FIELD SERVICE|
Wirt Fontenot - Serial # 38-264-380
84th Infantry Division
335th Regiment - Co.F.
Sergeant - Squad Leader
Born in Prairie Ronde, Louisiana on August 9, 1922, Wirt was raised during the depression, the son of a farmer. He joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in 1940 at the age of 18 years. He was discharged from this Corp in 1942 and inducted into the army the same year on December 1, 1942.
Camp Howz, Texas was the site of his basic training and Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, was where he went through further training and Army maneuvers. In 1944 he was sent to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where he boarded an English ship, the H.M.S. Sterling Castle, which was bound for England. When this ship left the New York harbor, it was hit by a tanker and had to return to the pier. All GI’s were taken back to Camp Kilmer. Once the ship was repaired, they began their journey across the sea, landing in Liverpool, England, October 10, 1944. When Wirt left England for France, he became part of the personnel that left the 84th and joined the “Red Ball Express”, a unit that delivered supplies to the front line. He was a truck driver and because he could speak and understand French, he became an interpreter for an officer.
Rejoining his outfit in November, he moved through France, Belgium and Holland to become involved in the “Battle of the Bulge”. He was in mud and snow and his fingers often stuck to the barrel of his gun. While in a foxhole in Ruhr Valley, he was captured by German soldiers. He was taken to a huge building where his picture was taken. He was so cold that he wouldn’t have cared if they had shot him, which is what he thought they were going to do. He was marched to a prison camp at Nienburg, Germany, then transferred by boxcar to Stalag III-B at Furstenburg, Germany. There were 64 men in this small boxcar-deplorable conditions and below freezing weather. Later, he was marched to Stalag III-A at Lukenwalde, Germany. He went through Berlin in one of the moves. While marching, he saw an SS Trooper shoot an American soldier when he stopped to tie his shoe.
The Russians liberated him in April 1945. A huge Russian tank came right through the wall of the camp and the tank was being driven by a Russian woman. He and two other POW’s found 2 horses and a buggy. Wirt knew how to hitch the horses to the buggy. They started traveling west and after 3 days, found the American lines.
After he was cleaned up, deloused, issued clean clothes, given a physical and food, he was flown in a C-47 to La Harve, France. He boarded ship there on May 22 to return to the United States and arrived in the States on June 3. After spending a convalescense furlough at home and in Florida, he was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, and then to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. He thought he’d have to go to Japan, but the atomic bomb was dropped and the war with Japan was over. He was discharged from Fort Dix, New Jersey on November 20, 1945.
Wirt worked for an oil company in south Louisiana for many years as a construction superintendent. He now lives in Bristol, Louisiana with his wife, Mellie Sibille Fontenot, has 3 children, 8 grandchildren and one great grandchild. In his spare time, he raises quarter horses.
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