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Leon Horowitz 1943 Leon Horowitz MD 1999

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Zip: 76092-9502 Phone:  817-424-1670 Spouse: FLORENCE BETTY
Conflict: WW II Service Branch: ARMY Unit: F CO 397 INF REG 100 DIV
Theater: ETO Where Captured: RIMMLING, Alsace Lorraine, France Date Captured: 01/09/45
Camps Held In: STALAG 9B How Long Interned: 83 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 04/02/45 Age at Capture: 19
Medals Received: Combat Infantry Badge ETO Medal 4 Battle Stars Bronze Star WW II Victory American Defense POW Medal Good Conduct Unit Citation
Military Job: MOS 405 Rifleman Company: Allergy Clinic of Tulsa Oklahoma
Occupation after War:  M.D. FOR CHILDRENS ALLERGIES

Military Bio:

Leon Horowitz, MD

Graduated high school in 1943 in Brooklyn and drafted 2 months later. Basic infantry training Ft. Benning, Georgia in ASTP Unit (integrated) and then Indiana University for fall semester. 100th mechanized Inf. Div. At Camp Campbell, Kentucky, then to Kamp Kilmer and on the way to Europe on the Queen Mary with 18,000 others headed for Scotland March 12, 1944. Ten days later on channel boat with full combat gear to Omaha Beach, D-Day + 4 months. Climbed the cliff and first sight in France was huge US military cemetery ³Welcome to France.² Replacement depot at Epinal and then to headquarters platoon, F Co., 2nd Btn., 397 Inf. Regiment 100th Inf. Div., 7th Army at Baccarat. Handed a field radio about which I knew nothing and carried on my back for 3 months and never sent or received any messages. Fought in Voges Mt. Compain during coldest winter on record, dug many 2-man foxholes and cut down many trees for cover. Once we took direct mortar hit with no damage. We sustained many artillery barrages including 88ıs. Once a GI next to me was blown away, another suffered ³shell shock² and was running around screaming wildly and was evacuated. Forced march north to plug gaps in 3rd Army front, which was shifted north to plug theBulge. Occupied Rimmling January 5, 1945 with very thin defense. German Operation Norwind, a last gasp, captured the town January 9th with Tiger tanks and S.S. after 3 vicious days of fighting as in the last scene of Saving Private Ryan. Our HQ was a farmhouse and we retreated to a potato cellar. Shortly thereafter we heard boot steps above and the trapdoor opened and we were told, ³Come out or we throw grenades down.² We had no choice. We came out with our hands up saying, ³Nicht schiessen² ­ donıt shoot, as we had heard many German captives say. As I emerged into the bright moonlight snow covered nightscape I was staring down the barrel of a German burp gun held by an SS Ober-Leutnant who boasted that we would be pushed back into the English Channel. I said the ³Shemah² my last prayers, expecting the worst. Just then the G.I. behind me came out saying, ³Nicht scheissen² which means, ³donıt shit.² The Germans burst out laughing and slapping their knees and instead of being shot I was put on the front of a Tiger tank with Lt. Leo Rabinowitz (later killed in an Allied bombing) and used as human shields. We survived this and after an interrogation were marched to a railroad station and packed into the infamous boxcars ­ too many to lie down, no toilet, many wounded and dying and we had a four day ride into Germany with two meals of a slice of ersatz bread and a cup of grass tea. We were let out once for toilet and German civilians stoned us.

We arrived at Bad Orb ­ a beautiful mountaintop resort town in the Black Mountains and with the last of our energy we were marched up a steep hill into Stalag IX-B described by the U.S. government as one of the worst POW camps in Europe. We were in wooden barracks with wooden bunks and straw mattresses, as n the concentration camps, and were issued German dog tags (which I still have) and a rough blanket with KG (the German equivalent of POW) stenciled on it. I cut mine out and have it. In the cold winter we had one potbellied stove heated with rationed wood we cut on labor details. A hole in the floor was our toilet into a bucket collected each morning by another work detail and dumped into a huge pit. Rations were one slice of ersatz (sawdust) bread, one cup of ersatz (grass) tea 2 times a day and a bowl of thin potato soup at night (I still can't eat potato soup). All sorts of things were traded for food, particularly cigarettes (which come in Red Cross parcels of which we got one) which had a value of about $20 for a single butt. We all lost weight rapidly. Body lice were everywhere and we used to pull them from our armpit hair and crack them between our fingernails. Shortly after arriving the Germans ordered all Jews to fall out next morning and we were segregated into a ³ghetto² barracks and subjected to shorter rations, less wood for the fire and harsher details. In late February a shipment came up to Berga am Elster ­ a ³Kommando² (labor camp, part of Buchenwald) where they were digging out the side of a mountain to install armament factories. All Jews, Poles, Russians, and Gypsies went on this shipment. Many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion or being shot for trying to escape. I did not go because I developed pneumonia (as is common with nutritional deprivation) and was left for dead, but I fooled them. I was dragged to the Krankenhaus barrack (sick building) where captured American medics did what they could with no medication. When I recovered, after the 'crisis of pneumonia, they showed me the coffin that had my name on it. I weighted 85 lbs.

Toward the end of March we began to hear artillery fire which kept getting closer and it was heavy around Bad Orb. At 8:L20 a.m. on April 2, two Sherman tanks broke down the gates and rolled in along with a jeep. Advancing GI infantrymen, outside the fences, didnıt know who we were and threw us cigarettes, chocolate bars and K-rations when they realized we were POWs. Trucks came in with rations and were swarmed like ants on cake and starving POWs fought over food. Many of us ­ including me ­ became ill, as we were not used to eating so much. On April 8 the sickest of us were flown out to Camp Lucky Strike where we were deloused and given new clothes, physical exams, shots and good food. On April 21, 1945 I boarded the SS Argentina for a 14-day trip home and sighted the Statue of Liberty on May 3 ­ she looked great. I walked into my parentsı apartment on May 7, 1945,my 20th birthday.

I received a medical discharge early in August and started college in September. The GI Bill and New York State Veterans Scholarship saw me through college and medical school at NYU. I practiced medicine in Tulsa, Oklahoma 42 years and am now retired and living in the Dallas area. The best part of this bio is that I married Florence Phillips in 1951 and we have 5 children and 6 grandchildren.

My Message to Future Generations:

Remember, freedom isn't free.

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