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John R. Hodgson 1944 John and Margaret Oct. 17, 1998

Last Name: `
First Name Middle Initial:
Nick Name:
Street:  289 HODGSON RD City & State: DARLINGTON, PA E-Mail: 
Zip: 16115 Phone:  (412) 843-8478 Spouse: MARGARET R
Conflict: WWII Service Branch: Army Air Corp Unit: 8th AF 390th BG 570 BS
Theater: ETO Where Captured: NEAR TURNHOUT, BELGIUM Date Captured: 05/11/44
Camps Held In: 9c Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VI and IV, Stalag Luft I and various other locations How Long Interned: 362 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 05/08/45 Age at Capture: 19
Medals Received: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal 3 Oak Clusters, Purple Heart, POW Medal
Occupation after War:  CARPENTER

Military Bio:

John R. Hodgson, born May 13, 1924 in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, enlisted in the 8th Air Force – USAAF on September 2, 1942. Assigned to Gunnery School, Harlingen, Texas; Arament School, Salt Lake City; Airplane Mechanic School, Amarillo, Texas; crew make-up training in Walla Walla, WA and Moses Lake. Assigned to the 390th Bomb Group – 570th Bomb Squadron in Framlingham.

Flew with Lt. William Stacy Branum in The Heavenly Body. Completed 25 missions; ordered to complete five more. On his 26th mission in a B-17 over Liege, Belgium with Lt. William Corkrean, flak hit two engines which burst into flames, followed by a direct hit to the cockpit. Injured in the left leg and hip by flak. His clothes ignited as he moved through the plane alerting other crew members to bail out. Parachuting down he was circled three times by an ME109 fighter. Before losing consciousness, he saw the German pilot's face as he smiled, saluted and veered off. He landed on a Luftwaffe airstrip suffering third degree burns on his face, around his eyes, neck, back, arms, buttocks and down the backs of his legs. He awoke several days later in Hertogenbosh, (Amsterdam, Holland). A German doctor pulled a sheet over his face declaring, “Kaput!” Lee T. Jenks, another wounded soldier, saved his life by jerking the sheet down and screaming, “He is like Hell dead! No kaput!”

German doctors treated his burns daily with no pain medication, scraping the dead, burned flesh off his body and dumping iodine on the wounds as hospital personnel held him down. A captured English doctor performed plastic surgery around his eyes. Other English doctors provided therapy at Menningen Orthopedic Hospital by laying him on a table on his stomach and forcing his legs down the opposite way to break the calcification in his knee joints.

Before being sent to POW Camp, he was held in an insane asylum and a granary where he would awake to find rats chewing on the bandages of his infected legs. He was in nine POW Camps: 9-C, Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VI & IV, and Stalag Luft I. Conditions were deplorable. They ate garbage, rats or any animal that strayed into Camp. He saw men have their throats torn out by attack dogs or shot for the slightest infraction. They were transported for nine days by boxcars packed so tightly that it was impossible to move. He saw Jews taken off boxcars, mercilessly gunned down and buried in trenches. Liberated by the Russians on May 8, 1945, he was flown to Camp Lucky Strike where he celebrated his 21st birthday weighing 90 pounds. He was discharged on November 5, 1945 as a T/Sergeant.

Upon returning home, John married Margaret Samchuck of Freedom, Pennsylvania. They have three children, William Stacy of Coatesville, PA; Larry Gail of Jamestown,NY; and Cynthia Kaye (Hodgson) McClain of Darlington, PA; thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. As a retired carpenter, he enjoys woodworking and his country home in Darlington, PA. A Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and Ex-POW Association, Inc.

Presented by:
John R. Hodgson

My Message to Future Generations:

My message to future generations remains the same today as when I was discharged. Upon my return to the United States, I wrote a letter to the parents of Lt. William Corkrean. The following is an excerpt from that letter: “…..This is my story, it is to the best of my knowledge as to what happened on that day of May 11, 1944. I hope you and all your friends will remember Billy as a good pilot and a man with very much courage and nerve to try to stick with his ship even when he knew there was but one chance in a million to land it safely. I hope this letter will answer all the questions that I know are running through your mind. Please be brave and have the courage to go on without your Billy as he had the courage to go to his death for us and his country. If the people of the world will stop their selfish fighting and would be willing to have peace, then Billy and all men like him did not die in vain….” John R. Hodgson 1999

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