Our residents are some of the most important reasons Merrill Gardens is such a special place to live. So, we’d like to highlight a few of them in the upcoming months.
First up is Tony Victor who lives at our community in Huntsville, Alabama. Tony is a veteran who served in the U.S. Air Corps beginning in 1942 as a radio operator and gunner. He was shot down, taken captive, spent a month in a military hospital under German supervision and was eventually sent to Nuremburg’s prisoner of war camp. We could tell the whole story on his behalf, but we think you’d rather hear it from him.
After finishing my Bachelors degree at La Verne College, La Verne, California, I was drafted into the service of the US Air Corps on September 13, 1942. I trained in Chicago for radio operator and gunner. I was accepted for cadet training and pilot training. I was reassigned to 833 Bomb Squadron where I was radio operator and gunner. On my 19th mission we were shot down by a German Bf109.
I parachuted from my B-17 plane near Strasburg, Germany, and landed on my lower back in a pine tree. On January 21, 1945, a snowy, bitterly cold day, I was taken captive. I was four weeks in a military hospital under German supervision due to the back injury. Afterward, I was imprisoned in a “sweat box” in Frankfort on the Main. Some time elapsed before I was moved to Nuremburg’s prisoner of war camp.
We were taken there by rail cars. While traveling at night the US Black Widow bombers and radar fighters, thinking the personnel and cargo rail cars were German, bombed us during our trip. Nightly, in Nuremburg, there were bombing flights overhead by English Sterling and Lancaster planes which were bombing the Germans in this area. German anti-aircraft fire was returned. As Patton advanced into Germany, the Germans moved us deeper into Germany to Moosburg. After about three weeks there, Patton’s army released all the prisoners of war at Moosburg.
I was flown to Camp Lucky Strike in La Havre, France for hospital care and food to bolster my malnutrition. I was discharged from the service at Fort George Wright in Washington State. I returned to California and began a new life.
I married Marllys R. Aschenbrenner in 1947 and had 3 children, Margery, Ann and Robert. After 30+ years, I retired from a career as a Psychiatric Social Worker in 1978. I settled into retirement with my wife, Marllys, and we were married 50 years before her death in 1998. At age 98, October 29, 2014 I have 5 grandchildren, and 2 great grand children.
We join Tony’s family in wishing him a very happy 98th birthday! We also want to thank Tony for his service to our country.
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