ARCANUM — Larry Wallace introduced veterans that shared their stories, from 1942 to 2012, during the Arcanum Wayne Trail Historical Society’s, Military Round Table Discussion, November 9.
Those veterans include: the U.S. Army: Glenn Eley (1942-1946) and Herbert Anthony (1945-1947); the U.S. Air Force Bill Campbell (1961-2012); the U.S. Navy Bill Metzcar (1965-1968), Lynn Trump (1959- 1963) and Larry Wallace (1958-1962); and a veteran sitting in the audience from the U.S. Marine Corps. Tom Whitton (1942-1946). Guests enjoyed snacks and a table full of memorabilia from the veterans.
One of the experiences that stood out in Glenn Eley’s mind the most, was when he and his troops helped liberate a concentration camp.
“It is one of the sharpest thing that sticks in my mind; just like it happened yesterday,” he said. “You absolutely cannot believe what one human can do to another.”
The Kaufering IV sub-camp of Dachau was liberated by the 12th Armored Division of the U.S. Seventh Army on April 27, 1945 with help from soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, who arrived on April 28, 1945. Kaufering IV was one of 11 camps, all named Kaufering and numbered I through XI, which were located near Landsberg am Lech, not far from the city of Munich, according to scrapbookpages.com.
“We drove in on them at the camp,” Eley said. “They were living in a place that was dug out of the ground. It had a walkway and so far on each side was nothing but dirt. Straw was all they had to sleep on. Their skin was so tight on the bone, that you could count every bone in them. There were several in the camp that were dead, and only a few living. The natives claimed they didn’t know a thing about the camps. We went into town and picked up a truckload of guys and their shovels, and brought them back to the camp and made them dig a grave to put all those dead bodies in. A lot of them had no idea what they were getting into. There was a railroad in the back, where you could see they put a lot of the prisoners and shipped them somewhere else. Then the woods had a big circle dug in the ground that was about two-feet deep, and there were bodies – torsos – you wouldn’t believe what we saw. I think they had a bunch of them back there digging graves for the ones that were still at the building. We were pushing too hard and they moved on.”
On a lighter note, Eley explained a much-anticipated meal he had while waiting for a train to take him home, in 1945.
“I was a fried oyster lover,” he said. “The other guys were getting a steak. In the restaurant, I told the waitress I wanted a dozen. She looked at me crazy and verified that I wanted a dozen. When they came, they were each as big as a pancake.”
Someone asked Herbert Anthony if he had faced any severe weather.
“I had a staff sergeant send me to Munich (Germany) in an open jeep in the wintertime to get some drinks,” he said. “On the way back they all froze up and busted. I got back to the barracks and he turned me around and sent me back with blankets.”
At one point, he was stationed at the German/Austrian border.
“We stopped everything going across the border, going into Germany,” he said. ‘We got word of one guy coming across the border with artificial legs. We caught him and took him inside, and they made him remove his legs. They took a bushel basket full of stuff out of those two legs, he was trying to get into the border, such as cigarettes and that kind of stuff. I had the privilege of hauling him off to jail.”
On his way home, Anthony said he was on a ship of 1,500 people.
“They transferred a guy off of a tanker onto our ship to operate on him,” he said. “We had to set there for 30 hours for the water to settle down, before they could operate. I never heard how he came out of that.”
Bill Campbell said he has been places people would not send their mother-in-law. Campbell explained his way into the military was a way out of working at the Bethlehem Steel Plant, in Baltimore Maryland. He shared a few stories, including one when he was on flying status in Thailand.
“It was a neat experience, because we flew at 2,300 feet which is less than a mile,” he said. “You could see the mud puddles on Ho Chí Minh trail.”
After retirement from active duty, Campbell served 30 years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“I enjoy bombs and bullets,” he said. “I still have all my fingers and toes, but I have two phony hips and two phony shoulders. Most of the time in the military munitions, you are stuck out way in the middle of nowhere, because nobody wants to live or work next to a bomb dump. Everything out there was physical; now it is all electronic.”
Through all of his war-time experiences, Eley said last Christmas was one of the highlights of his life.
“I saw a young lady in Walmart watching me,” he said. “She came over and gave me a hug and said, ‘Thanks for the service’. I believe that was the best Christmas I ever had.”
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