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William F. Schmidt

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Bill at National Convention
Baton Rouge 1998

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Bill and Sister Marianne 1944

William F. Schmidt Bio -   After graduation from Youngstown-Rayen in 1943, Bill enlisted in the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program, attended Indiana University.   He began 1944 at infantry basic training at Ft. Benning and on completion (since the ASTP program had been cut) was sent to to the Fort Bragg, 100th division.   Shipping out with the division in October, the unit went on line in the Seventh Army sector with the 399th Rgt., Company E, as a PFC. rifleman. 

   After two months of advancing toward the Maginot line, Bill was taken captive with his squad by the German counteroffensive "Operation Northwind" January 1st., in a blockhouse near Bitche.

   Bill was transported back to a labor camp south of Dresden in four stages on box cars.  Most notable was the 90 men in the car the first night and the allied bombing daylight raid on the  Hamburg rail-yards and third leg of the trip.

   He was in one of the 13 labor camps of IVA, near Bad Shandau/Elbe doing pick and shovel work on the standard scanty rations.  Toward the end of April he collapsed at morning roll call and wound up in the camp hospital, (a number of straw pallets  on the floor of a small barracks). 

   As the Russians approached the Elbe river the camp was evacuated and it was every man for himself.  However Bill was taken by stretcher to a house on the west bank by some fellow prisoners where he was liberated two days later. 

   At war’s end Bill was in U.S. Army hospitals from May to December. Honorable Discharge on December 17, 1945. Through the G.I. Bill, received College and Seminary Education and was ordained in 1952.  Served in six congregations during a ministry of 38 years.

  Became a Life Member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War and a Charter Member of the Fairfield Barbed Wire Chapter in Ohio in 1980.  Bill is our current National Commander - 2000- 2001 and  was a National DIrector for 4 years, a National Jr. Vice Commander 1 year and a National Sr. Vice Commander 1 year. In addition he served as Chapter Commander of the Mid-South Chapter (TN) and also Ohio Chapter No. One. He has attended fourteen National Conventions since 1986.

   Bills message to the future generations is;  "The image of freedom and future purpose under God will give one hope to stay alive in very adverse conditions. " 

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