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Subdeacon Joe

He drove a tank through the front gate of Dachau

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World War II hero Jim Feezel from Alabama

 

 

James Martin Feezel died on Thursday, Oct. 15, according to Roselawn Funeral Home in Decatur. He was 95.

In a video interview project by Gary Cosby Jr. with The Decatur Daily in 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Feezel recalled the moment his commanding officer told him to break through the gate at Dachau on April 29, 1945.

 
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“I often reckon with the very fact that I was such a small pebble in a large stream of thousands and thousands of men who went to fight this war,” 

The rods of many a hero.

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My Dad, and his best friend, were drafted into the Army in 1942.  Dad went to the west coast to train, and went to Leyte, and later Okinawa. His friend went to England, then France, and into Germany. In high school, one of my friend's fathers was in the Burma theater, with Merrill's Marauders. I worked with a man that was in the Army Air Force, B-17's, flying out of England. I knew a man that endured the Bataan death march.

Over the years I have met, and visited with many world war two veterans.

I asked them a lot of questions. One question I always did ask was this: "did you ever think we would lose the war?"

Every single one of them, that I asked that question to, said NO!

They said they figured it would take a while, to win it, fighting on more than one front, as we were doing, but that they never doubted we would win.

Many said it never entered their minds we would not win.

 

The greatest generation...men, and women! They.endured the Great Depression, and then later a world war.

 

God bless the one's who are still with us, and God help us if we ever forget what they did for us.

 

I helped do a funeral, a few years back. It was a tiny lady that always sat in the same place in the church. She was soft spoken, and quiet.

We interviewed the family, a few days before the funeral service, to get more details of her life, so we could have an idea of her background.

As it turns out, she was the wife of a career U.S. Army officer. They moved all over the United States,. and were posted overseas, at various times.

She had three children, that she had to pretty much raise alone, since her husband was gone so much..

During world war two, she was a motorcycle dispatch rider, for the Army, carrying messages back and forth.

The point of that story is, obviously, you never know, as you look at someone, what they have done, and had to do. The outside we see rarely ever gives us any kind of a picture of where the person has been, and what they have done. 

That older person in your church, or neighborhood, or you see at a restaurant, or grocery store, or walking each day, may have a tremendous story to tell, and would be thrilled to tell it. I had no way of knowing this tiny, quiet, lady, knew a motorcycle from a hot rock, yet....did she ever!!!

 

God bless our veterans...past, present, and future.  

 

 

 

Edited by Waxahachie Kid #17017 L
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I lost family members in Dachau.........

 

Bless you Jim and company for all you did.  Thank you all for your service.

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There were a number of units that liberated Dachau.  The 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division, and a regiment of the 45th ID, plus a Black tank company, and Jim Feezel's tanker outfit.  They came in from different directions and both the 42nd and 45th claimed to have done the liberation.  BGEN Henning Linden, ADC of the 42nd took the official surrender from an SS lieutenant. A number of soldiers from the 45th lined p a bunch of SS troops and cut them down! The CO of the unit was brought up on charges of war crimes.  The case went up to GEN. Patton, who took one look at the papers and tore them up!

A late  member of my veterans post was actually there, as a member of the H&Hqtrs CO of the 222nd of the Rainbow.  My father was also a member of the Rainbow, but was not there, as he was assigned to division Hqtrs.

G-d bless all those who served! There aren't many of them left now.

:FlagAm:

Edited by Trailrider #896
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That story mirrors one told by my Uncle, who, with an armoured regiment, had an infantry unit attached to it, made up of Poles.

Near the end of the war, many NAZi SS members tried to hide in the ranks of surrendering Wehrmacht troops, by wearing regtular army uniforms.

The Poles went down the ranks of captured troops and ripped open the tunics to see if the blood type was tattooed under the arm.

If it was, the man was shot out of hand.

When my Uncle's Captain tried to stop it and radio'd in for help, he was told to drive away.

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Waxahachie Kid #17017 L said:

One question I always did ask was this: "did you ever think we would lose the war?"

Every single one of them, that I asked that question to, said NO!

 

That's interesting.  I assume you're only interviewed US soldiers. I wonder if the answer would be the same for soldiers from other nations.  I imagine there were times when the brits and french weren't so sure.  The Germans and italians were probably pretty sure right up till the end.  There's probably some japanese soldiers who still think they have a chance. 

 

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Yes...I only talked to world war 2., U.S. service personnel, since they were once abundant around here.

Many of them were simply resolute, and determined, and not as angry as I figured they would be.

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

 

That's interesting.  I assume you're only interviewed US soldiers. I wonder if the answer would be the same for soldiers from other nations.  I imagine there were times when the brits and french weren't so sure.  The Germans and italians were probably pretty sure right up till the end.  There's probably some japanese soldiers who still think they have a chance. 

 

 

From what I have read, granted not a serious study, many German soldiers starting in '44, even before D-Day, were starting to question if they could win.  By '45, if I read things right, a majority of the line grunts were wondering why they were still fighting.

 

Not that they dared show it. 

 

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I asked the U.S. World War 2 veterans the question: "did you ever think, or believe, we would lose the war?"

 

I didn't have any Japanese, or German, or Italian, or English, or French, or Australian, or any other countries' veterans to ask, and frankly, I did not have an inclination to do so.

I wanted to know what the American service man/woman thought. I did not give a masticated female rodent's mammary gland what a Nazi, or Imperial solider, thought, and pretty much still don't.  

 

I asked that question, of them, because when I went overseas, in 1971, we did not have that same mindset. Even before we got in-country, and even before we experienced anything there, none of us had that belief that we would win. Our goal was to endure, for a year or so. That idea, of winning, was foreign to me.  Even more so after being there, for a while.

 

But, not so the American World War 2 veterans, that I talked to. Even before they got drafted, and left for basic training, they figured we would win, eventually.

Dad was raised on a farm, had never been anywhere, and did not have a lot of life experience, and had no clue as to what awaited him, in the military.  Yet, he told me that as soon as he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, that he knew he would serve, and it never entered his mind that we would lose.  He was not anxious to leave home, but he knew there was a job to be done, and also, by golly, we had been attacked. That was not going to fly with him.

 

Yes...the two wars (ours was called a "conflict", as was Korea) were very different, in a lot of ways. We had little, or no, public support, either before we went overseas, or when we came back.

Before we went overseas, we always tried, when we would go off base, to be in civilian clothes, to avoid any confrontations.

Coming home, a year or so later, we were cursed, and spit on, when we disembarked at the airport in our uniforms.

Way too late, to do, or say anything, to me....but....thankfully, now, our returning veterans are honored, and greeted warmly, and respected, and admired.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Waxahachie Kid #17017 L
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Waxahachie Kid: My Father was Pre-War RCAF, having joined the airforce in 1936, when he saw there was a war coming.

He wanted to be trained to accomplish something useful and was too successful as he put it: He ended up an instructor with the BCATP, training air crew for the European Theatre.

It was touch and go for England after the fall of France, but the attitude was that the war would go on, from the rest of the Empire countries, even if Britain was invaded and over-run.

When the news of the bombing at Pearl Harbour was announced on the radio, December 7, my Mother told me my Father turned to her and said, "Well, the Americans are now in it. We just won the war!"

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Some people have asked on this thread of other country's outlooks during the war. I have limited scope with only two stories, but they may offer another perspective.

 

My grandfather joined the Italian troops when it did a 180 and aligned with the allies. He was in Sicily for the liberation. He never spoke much about those days, except for the fact that all they ate for years was 'pan'e formaggiu' (cheese and bread) and that nobody really wanted to fight, until the end of the conflict. They were all scared of Germany's power and he felt, for lack of a better word, bullied by them. During his duty he was wounded by grenade shrapnel. He hated Mussolini with a passion and if his name ever came up at the table he'd get red in the face and anxiously puff his cigar. He loved Americans and the British because he felt they helped make Italy free.

 

My grandmother was a Libyan refugee during Mussolini's invasion. She saw the other side of the Italian conflict. She was separated from her family in Libya at age 11 and some strangers put her on a boat with them to Sicily. She lived with the family in a local cave system for years (they are all over the island) until the allies liberated the island, and they brought her to an orphanage in a nearby town. She talked more than my grandpa did about her experiences and before her passing I sat with her and recorded her story on a tape recorder, to someday share with my children.

 

I have a tattoo on my inner arm of what she always said to me growing up, 'sorridi alla cattiva sorte', which translates to 'smile at bad luck'. In her eyes, life was a blessing and every day, good or bad, was a lucky day.

 

The Allied soldiers had more impact and did more good to the world than they probably ever knew. My family would probably have had a completely different life it it weren't for those men.

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If any generation of Americans had a calling, and a purpose, it was the world war two generation....very aptly called: "the greatest generation". I have read scores of stories about those folks in camps, and prisons, and hiding out in the woods, and in the resistance, looking out and seeing a tank with a white star on the side, seeing a soldier coming toward them, chewing gum, and smiling, and hearing the news that the Americans are here! Ask the folks in the Netherlands how they still feel about the Americans...even after all these years....or even the still living folks that were children during the Berlin air lift.

When is the last time you heard of any Russian, or Chinese, or North Korean airplane dropping candy to the children, as they flew over, on their way to deliver food and medicine to starving and hurting former enemies?

I tell you, they had a calling.

They still do.

God bless the American veterans...past, present, and future.

God forgive us if we ever disrespect them, or forget them.

 

W.K.

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