Minnesotans in Combat
The following are excerpts from interviews with Minnesotans who served in combat during WWII. Stuart Lindman was a stretcher-bearer in the Pacific, while George McKewin was an airman serving in Europe. Think about the following as you read their reminiscences:
- How do you think the experience of combat effected these individuals?
- How are their experiences different? How are they similar?
Excerpt of interview with Stuart Lindman, who served on Okinawa.
I jumped up in the trunk. I walked the length of the bed of the trunk and sat down behind the driver. And just as I sat down there was a - just a deafening roar. And immediately it was just obvious we'd been hit by a plane strafing us. I went out the passenger's side through the cab of the truck and I ran across a ditch maybe fifty, a hundred yards, to an ambulance and crawled under the ambulance. There was no second pass by the plane. There was no firing. There hadn't been firing for hours. And so with the silence, I realized it was all over.
I had no idea I'd been hit. And then when I tried to get out from under the truck, then I saw blood all over. My right arm had been broken. My right hand had been shot. My left hand had been shot. The biggest wound was my left leg, and I couldn't walk, of course. How I ran, I don't know. The men who were replacing us were right there to pick us up. So I was put on a makeshift ambulance. We converted Jeeps, so we'd put litters [stretchers] on the Jeeps.
I was put on an ambulance and taken back to the field hospital and put in a tent all by myself. This happened at four-thirty in the afternoon and around supper hour our battalion surgeon walked in. He said, "We've been trying to get to you." He said, "Your father has passed away a few days ago and there's a telegram from the Red Cross." He said, "I'm sorry to bring you this news." And that's the way I found out that my father had died.
Excerpt of interview with George McKewin, who was shot down over Paris on June14, 1944. Here he details his escape.
"I fell from the plane, and didn't try to open my chute until I was well below the 20,000-foot level at which we were flying. When I pulled the rip cord, the chute streamed out behind me, not opening. For the next few thousand feet I snapped at the shroud lines, and the chute finally did open very close to the ground."
I drifted over a dirt road with a German truck stopped under me. A soldier watched me descend. Another was under the truck, trying to repair some part of the engine. The one who watched me just watched, and didn't tell the other about me. I found out later that my observer was drafted into service, a Frenchman, and that his counterpart was a German.
When I landed, I quickly buried my chute, and hurried south, away from Paris. I must have walked only a short way before I saw some men working in a field near a small villiage. I approached them, not knowing any French but remembering a little of the German I was taught in high school, I said, "Ich bin einer Amerikanish" [I am an American]. That was close to the extent of my knowledge of their enemy's language. But it got their attention. I was surrounded immediately by those workers, each carrying a pitch fork, and all the tines aimed at me.
One of them spoke some English, and after a while they grew more friendly, and took me to a farm home nearby. The people there were instrumental in helping me to the Underground, and I was reunited with my pilot, Captain Lively. We were taken to an apartment in Paris, given false IDs that said we were deaf mutes, and were provided the necessities of food and housing for the next several weeks. I was with Captain Lively, living in Paris from near the end of June until August 24th, my birthday, the day Paris was liberated."