Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thinking of Nuremberg tonight

I miss my Dad. He died in August 1998. That's a long time ago. But his memories still haunt me, especially on July 4th, even if it is July 3rd. I especially remember his stories about Nuremberg. Dad was a top turret gunner on a B-17 and he was shot down. He survived numerous Nazi prison camps and somehow came home alive to father me. You can imagine what he went through. One of his most recurrent stories was about the Allied bombing of Nuremberg. By the time he got to Nuremberg, he had somehow survived several other brutal Nazi POW camps. Just even getting to Nuremberg alive was a miracle as their railroad cars had been parked on a siding and been bombed by a RAF night raid.

Somehow he got the "piss can" duty in a wooden rail car filled with terrified Americans. He enjoyed looking out the window. He said, "I was thinking how cute it was, the little area there and, my God, the bombs were getting so close and the railroad tracks near me blew up and turned like cork screws."

Somehow, when they finally got near Nuremberg, the Nazi guards ran the men to their next camp. Dad said, "The roads were just filled with rubble. Houses and buildings were just blown all to hell and we could not see the road. We were climbing over these huge pieces of buildings and finally made our way out of it, out of the bombed area."

But he was close enough to Nuremberg to witness the grand finale of the epic destruction of the ancient city:

"The 8th Air Force would come over in the morning. Once the British had done their bombing at night, the Americans would come over and we could look up and see the airplanes right above us. We could see the bombs come out. We would just stand there and watch those things and we wondered if we would survive the bombing, but we never got a bomb in the compound even though Nuremberg was being obliterated. The RAF bombed Nuremberg all night and the 8th Air Force bombed all day.

I remember seeing this gas storage tank, a big one, and when that blew, it all went into the air...the whole container. It was very high in the air and the flames were just everywhere. There was a lot of smoke. There was just absolute chaos and confusion. With all the noise and everything, I look back and think how many times I felt that this earth cannot take it. It has got to split open. I kept thinking that it's got to. Jesus, it would just shake the earth as thought someone were standing there shaking you. It was that bad. I know that was a juvenile thought, but nonetheless, I felt that way and I can still remember to this day how I felt at that time. I've never gotten over that."

From "Best Seat in The House," by John Robert Parsons (1922-1998)

Well, somehow, the Idaho Falls fireworks bring all this back for me. We'll see you on the other side. May we celebrate Cheers for Freedom! Many Cheers! jp

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