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STALAG 17b 2000 REUNION GOLF WINNERS - Ron Nacol, Tom Twitty, Bob Hoegh, and Col. Hadley

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Street:  2917 w 19TH #45 City & State: KENNEWICK, WA E-Mail:  hoebob@owt.com
Zip: 99337-2304 Phone:  509 586-0495 Spouse: ZENNIA
Conflict: WWII Service Branch: Army Air Corp Unit: 8TH AF 94TH BOMB GROUP
Theater: ETO Where Captured: GERGER, GERMANY Date Captured: 04/18/44
Camps Held In: STALAG 17b, DULAG LUFT How Long Interned: 385 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 05/08/45 Age at Capture: 24
Occupation after War:  RAIL ROAD POLICE

Military Bio:

I was born February 25, 1921 in Spokane, Washington. In June of 1939 I joined the
Washington Air National Guard at Feltís Field. Within ten days the guard unit was sent to Grey Field at Fort Lewis, Washington. I had always been interested in Aircraft. I was called to the flight line, given a parachute and boarded a 038 Biplane with open cockpits. The pilot flew under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a memorable flight for a new recruit.

The following June we went to camp at Grey Field. I was assigned to the armament department, which took care of all the armament this guard unit had. When we returned home at the end of the camp period we were told to get all of our personal affairs in order as we were going to be mobilized on September 16, 1940 for one year of service. This one year turned out to last until the fall of 1945.

Shortly after December 7, 1940, our unit began flying shore patrol up and down the Washington coast from Destruction Rock off the Washington coast south to Tillamook Head just off the Oregon coast. In the morning we would fly north to Destruction Rock then fly into Moon Island in Greys Harbor, Washington for lunch, then fly south to Tillamook Head and on completion we would retire for the night. The next day the order would be reversed. This continued for several weeks and then I was sent back to Grey Field where I covered many duties. In July of 1942 I was sent to gunnery school in Las Vegas. It was so hot there that it was almost impossible to sleep at night. Soon we learned to take a cold shower, wet our towels and lay on our bed without trying to dry off. We cooled as evaporation took place.

After graduation I went back to Grey Field and completed various duties until I was sent to Lowery Field just east of Denver, Colorado. March of 1943 was a great time of the year, the snows were melting and spring was about to happen. My school hours were from 4 a.m. to noon, which gave me the opportunity to go into Denver for a meal, or go roller-skating. On graduation I was sent to Ontario, California where some of my old unit was. I requested to be returned to Salinas, California where my buddies were, little did I know that it would result in my transfer to the 18th Replacement Wing at Salt Lake City. After a short stay there, I was sent to Peyote, Texas where I was found to have a lot of flying time and experience in air gunnery. Then, after three days, I was put on a train headed for Dalhart, Texas which is located in the panhandle.

I was assigned to a B-17 crew consisting of Gay Reider, Pilot; Herb Kerinski, Copilot; Burk Brooks, Navigator; Chas Coleman, Bombardier; Herb Geilert, Radio and Matt Cerasaro, Tail Gunner. We completed our fourth phase of training in the fall of 1943. We were then sent to Scott Field, Illinois where we received a new aircraft, which we flew to Presque Island, Maine, then to Gander, New Foundland, and on to Preswick, Scotland where they took our new aircraft away from us.

We, as a crew, were then placed in a replacement pool and finally sent to the 94th Bomb Group as a replacement crew beginning October 1943. We flew missions as called. During these missions there were some very trying flights. On our 19th mission our target Berlin, we were greeted by a flight of ME 109 S that shot us out of the sky. Down April 18th, 1944 near the town of Berger.

Germany, a prisoner, what a scary thought. What would happen now? The other noncoms and I were sent to Dulag Luft at Frankfurt on the Main. The officers were sent to other camps but I do not know where. From Frankfurt I moved to Krems, Austria and Stalag 17B where I stayed until April 1945. We were forced to march from Krems toward Munich, which was westward and away from the advancing Russians coming from the East. We finally ended in a forest area with no shelter to protect us and it rained and snowed. But, in early May, the Third Army had advanced far enough to liberate the four thousand American GIís in the woods.

After some time and arriving at Camp Lucky Strike in France, I was placed on a liberty ship, The Sea Porpoise, which took us to the United States and home. I received an 83-day furlough and was told to report to Santa Monica, California to a rehabilitation center. I was there for a few weeks then moved to Santa Anna where I received my discharge October 10. 1945.

After I was discharged I moved back to Spokane, Washington. I married my wife, Zennia, on June 28, 1946. We had three children, Steven, Sandra and Teresa. I worked as a deputy sheriff for Spokane County, then as an assistant special agent for Northern Pacific Railroad. Was transferred to Pasco, Washington in 1955. I retired from Burlington Northern Railroad in 1985. I moved to Kennewick in 1991. I now have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

My Message to Future Generations:

Black Thursday, B-17 Super Fortress in Trouble

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