A Rural California Boy's Story of Going To War, including his Prisoner of War Diary from Stalag Luft 1
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Brad Wilson grew up in the sleepy rural country community of Redwood Valley, California, and was used to playing with his dog, diving into the local swimming hole, and helping out on his extended family's ranch. Then came World War II, and suddenly he was in Europe as a member of the 445th bomb group of the 8th Air Force, flying missions into enemy territory, constantly in harm's way. Eventually he was shot down over Germany and taken as a prisoner of war. He made it through these events the only way he could... one day at a time.
Written as a diary while in Stalag 1A in Barth, Germany, and then added to later, the story has a day-to-day immediacy that tells more than just the big historical picture. It includes letters he wrote to his family while in P.O.W. camp and illustrations he made in his diary while there. EVERYDAY P.O.W. is the fascinating story of an everyday boy in extraordinary circumstances.
Jack hollered to me, "I can't hold it any longer. We're going down. Everyone bail out now!" He turned the ship inland. Everyone headed for the bomb bay.
I went on the cat walk, streams of gasoline pouring out of punctured lines, strapping on my chest pack chute, and then hesitated as I looked out into that open space below me. In that brief instant of time where I was hesitating, wondering whether to go down with the ship or trust the piece of silk strapped to my chest, I felt a nudge of a foot in my back and I was committed to space.
I was amazed at the sensation. It did not feel like I was falling. I was just lying back on a cushion of air, no sound of wind rushing by, no sound at all. We had never received actual training on parachuting, only lectures. We were told to count to ten before pulling the rip cord. I had only counted to three, but I could see the plane was far away. I said, "To heck with this," and I pulled. Nothing happened. Panic set in! How long had this chute been stuffed in this pouch since it was last repacked?