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John R.Parsons

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John R.Parsons 1943

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John Parsons 1942

John and Mai met in the Summer of 1941 and were Married May 6, 1942. John was drafted into the Air Force in September 1942. Subsequently, he spent seven months at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He completed basic training and Gunnery School at Keesler AFB. John was sent for brief periods to an air base near Burbank, CA, one near Las Vegas and another near Salt Lake City, Utah. John joined up with B-17 crewmembers in Ephrata, WA. After training together in Ephrata and Spokane, WA they were sent to Bassingborne, England in November 1943. John and the other nine members of the crew (four officers and 6 enlisted men) were assigned to a B-17 aircraft which they named "Ramblin Wreck".

  They flew twelve missions over flak–filled skies in Germany. The Ramblin Wreck was badly damaged by flak on February 20, 1944. On February 21, 1944 they flew Lightning Strikes and were shot down over a village near Hanover, Germany. They were taken prisoners almost immediately.

After interrogation at Dulag Luft near Frankfort, Germany, John and the other enlisted crewmembers were taken to Stalag Luft VI near Konigsberg in Luthiwania near the Baltic Sea. The officers were taken to Stalag Luft I near Barth, Germany. John was interred here until July 1944 when they were transferred to Stalag Luft IV. During this transfer John endured the infamous Hydekrug Run. Stalag Luft IV was located near Groty-Chow, Poland. In January 1945, John and other prisoners deemed too ill to march, were taken by train to Nuremberg, Germany. Upon arriving in Nuremberg they were locked in boxcars while allied planes literally destroyed the rail yards.  John was briefly interred in a makeshift POW camp in Nuremberg.  In February, John and other surviving POW’s started walking south. No food or lodging was provided during this forced march for the prisoners or the guards. They stayed in barns and survived by eating flower bulbs, potatoes from pig lots or whatever they could find. They reached Moosberg, Germany in late April 1945 and on April 29, Patton’s 3rd Army liberated them from the Germans.  John was flown back to Camp Lucky Strike in France and arrived back in the United States by boat.
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