Hal Mapes was a waist gunner on a B-17, and was one of only two men to survive the collision of two bombers in the sky over Chartres, France. As a POW, he took part in the 80-plus day march across Germany near the end of the war. "Best diet I was ever on," he would say more than 50 years later. "We didn't have anything to eat."
In 1994, Tom McKinney was watching the 50th anniversary of D-Day ceremonies on television with his father, Vincent “Mike” McKinney. Tom noticed his father, who rarely spoke about the war, turning red while President Clinton was introducing a veteran as the first American to land on Omaha Beach. McKinney was in the first wave to hit the beach, his boat took two hits, and he had to step over bodies to get ashore. When he looked around, he saw no one.
"D Day Tapes."
"After the battle, we picked up a German soldier who had been wounded. He had been shot in the leg with a .50-caliber bullet, and had lain out overnight in this freezing, subzero weather. Both of his arms and both of his legs were frozen stiff as a board. He begged us to shoot him. I couldn't do it. I asked for a volunteer. But these battle hardened soldiers would not volunteer. One soldier lit a cigarette and held it to his lips. Another soldier brought him a hot cup of coffee and held it so he could get coffee until we got the litter jeep up there...."
"Poor sound quality doesn't mar this gem"
Vern Schmidt was assigned to the 90th Infantry Division in February of 1945, along with two other replacements. Within 10 days, the other two were dead. This interview includes stories from Vern's wife Dona, whose family moved from Texas to California during the heart of the Dust Bowl.
Aaron Elson has been interviewing World War 2 veterans for 20 years. In this oral history audiobook, he presents, in their own voices, the stories of three survivors of the "Black March" across Germany near the end of the war.