|Paul Parks 1945|
|B17s Taxie Out For Mission|
|Last Name: `
|Street: P.O. Box 337||City & State: ECKERT, CO||E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Zip: 81418||Phone: 970 835-3423||Spouse: Nell|
|Conflict: WWII||Service Branch: Army Air Corp||Unit: 381st Bomb Goup 533 Squardron|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: FRANKFURT, GERMANY||Date Captured: 9/09/44|
|Camps Held In: STALAG LUFF4 IV, camp 357, Dachau||How Long Interned: 218 days|
|liberated / repatriated: Escaped||Date Liberated: 4/15/45||Age at Capture: 18|
|Medals Received: Purple Heart, Air Medal 2 clusters, French Normady, POW medal|
|Military Job: FLIGHT ENGINEER B17||Company: SELF EMPLOYED - Marine Electronics|
|Occupation after War: Student|
I enlisted in the Army in June of 1943 with the promise that if I passed the Army Air Corp exam I would be assigned to the Army Air Corp. I passed, and reported to Amarillo TX. for basic training. Our class then completed aircraft mechanic school also in Amarillo moved on to Kingman, Arizona for gunnery school. Here I receive my wings (a proud day and my life).
Then it was on to Ardmore, Oklahoma to pick up a crew. We did some practice close formation flying and Bomb runs at 29,000 feet. From there I went to Lincoln Nebraska for bombardier training on the secrete Norton Bomb sight. As a Flight Engineer we were crossed trained to take over other jobs on the ship in case of injuries. From Lincoln, Nebraska we picked up a new B17G and headed out for Eroupe. We refuled in New Hampshire and Bangor Maine and then on to Iceland via the Artic Circle route to our new home in England. We were attached is 381st bomb group, 533 squadron.
I flew my first mission with another crew that had lost there flight engeneer. We flew the Normandy invasion on June 3rd, 1944 and recieved the French campain medal for that flight.
Our plane was shot down over Franfort Germany on September 25th, 1944. I was wounded and taken prisoner of war and assigned to Stalag Luff IV near the Baltic Sea town of Stettin. Sometime in January 1945 were made to evacuate the camp because of the advancing Russians. We were forced to walk in minus 10 degree weather for more than 600 miles across Germany. We slept in snow, barns, under bridges, and woods. We were forced to forge off the land for food and clothing for rations were scarce. We stopped at camp 357 for a short time and then it was back on the road. We spent several days at Dachau, a concentration camp. It was grim to say the least but we could not see what Dachau was all about at the time. On or about April 10, 1945 were back on the road again.
On the morning of April 15, 1945 we heard rumbling tanks and heavy equipment and noticed all the guards were gone. We walked up to the road and saw the British 11th Armored Division and we were instantly repatriated. They had their Lancaster's flying and were backed up by trucks loaded with supplies in fields nearby. I picked up a flight to England the very next day. There I was hospitalized for about six weeks in preperation for our return via ship to the United States. Once back on US soil, I was sent to Fort George Wright Hospital and also spent some rehab time at a hospital in California. Was discharged on Nov. 30th, 1945 and fineally returned to civilian life.
The forced march in the middle of the winter of 600 miles crisscrossing Germany was a hardship that many did not surrive. We lost one out of five and sustain injuries that lasted for life. I still have feelings for those the did not make it, for the these are the real heros. Knowing the war would soon be over many of us would not give up just thinking that any day we might be going home. These thoughts saved many of us.
|My Message to Future Generations:
Don't Ever Give Up No Matter How Tough, It Might Be Better Tomorrow!
|B17 in Flight Mural at Smithsonian Washington Air & Space Musum|
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