Sunny View resident endured time as POW

Published 7:40 am Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In honor of my father, a World War II Veteran. My dad is Calvin Wilson, a life-long resident of the Sunny View community, and a WWII veteran. I am submitting the following as his story:

I entered the U.S. Army in March 1944 with basic training at Camp Blanding, Fla. and additional training at Camp Atterbury, Ind.
In November 1944, as a member of the 422nd Regiment of the 106th Division, I was sent by troop transport across the Atlantic to England. There the regiment loaded on another ship, sailed to France and up the Seine River.
We reached the front lines in early December 1944. The German army launched an offensive on the 16th. The 422nd and 423rd Regiments were cut off and surrounded. After running out of food and ammunition we were ordered to surrender. The German Army captured more than 7,000 Americans during this offensive, which would become known as the Battle of the Bulge.
For several days we marched eastward into Germany. For a few days we were under the control of German SS troops. Under their control, any American soldier who left the column was either shot or bayoneted.
One day we walked past a snow-covered sugar beet field and as we had been out of food for two or three days a few soldiers left the column to try to find some beets. They were killed.
After we were well away from the front lines, our guards became regular German Army troops who, like our camp guards, were for the most part too old or otherwise unfit for frontline duty. They tended to be somewhat kinder.
One even gave me a piece of bread to eat. Some nights we slept in the snow and other nights we stayed in whatever buildings were available. One night we stayed in an unheated church where we slept on the pews or on the floor, often stacked on top of each other for warmth.
After walking several days we boarded a train that took us to Bad Orb, Germany. The freight cars were so crowded we had to stand most of the time.
At Bad Orb was the prisoner of war camp, Stalag IX-B. It was a large camp and very overcrowded. We received one blanket per person and had one wood heater per barracks. At this point in the war, the Germans were barely able to feed themselves and as a result we had very little to eat.
The basic food was barley soup. When I had left the U.S., I weighed 150 pounds, after release from the prisoner of war camp I weighed about 90 pounds.
After American troops reached us in April 1945, I spent several weeks in military hospitals in Germany and France. Later I returned to the United States by ship where I was honorably discharged as a corporal in November 1945.
Like so many Americans who have served in the Armed Forces my Dad and others did their duty to their country; often paying a steep price, sometimes beyond measure.
– article submitted by Gene Wilson

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