I was born in Olyphant, PA and graduated Olyphant High School in 1939. At the age of 18, I enlisted PA National Guard. February 17, 1941 inducted into Federal Service with CO. B. 109th Infantry 28th Division. Trained at Indiantown Gap, PA, Camp Livingston, LA., Camp Carabela, FL., and Camp Pickett, VA. Participated in Louisiana and Carolina maneuvers. While bivouacked at A. P. Hill, Manassas, VA, the Japanese told us of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Departed for E.T.O. October 8, 1943. Landed at Swansea, Wales, stationed at Lantwit Major, Wales.
While stationed at Camp Livingston, LA., General Omar Bradley transferred all non-coms to different companies. I was put in CO. K. 109 INF. Landed in France at Omaha Beach around the third week in July 1944. Engaged in combat with German forces until wounded and captured at the Siegfried Line in Germany, September 17, 1944.
To the best of my knowledge I was hospitalized at Reserve Lazarett Andernach Sept. 19, 1944 to Sept. 21, 1944; Reserve Lazarett Hersfeld Sept. 24, 1944 to Nov. 5, 1944; Reserve Lazarett Obermassfeld Nov. 6, 1944 to Dec. 19, 1944.
From 12-20-44 to a part of January was spent in a hospital run by captured U.S. and British doctors. In early part of January I was taken to Stalag IIB. Advancing Russian troops forced the evacuation of Stalag IIB on January 29, 1945 during blizzard conditions. We were forced to walk westward with no suitable clothing and very little to eat. Most of the nights were spent in barns or under the skies with no adequate covers or clothing to keep us warm. Food was just about non-existent.
Destination for 200 of us was Hagenow, Germany. We were put in a stockade and forced to work in and around a military airport from March 1945 until we were liberated May 2, 1945 by the 8th Inf. Div. We were flown to Camp Lucky Strike in France and arrived back in the USA on May 16, 1945. Received 60-day furlough after which one week was spent at Lake Placid, NY for rehabilitation. Reported to Fort Devens, Mass. and discharged on August 13, 1945.
Married my sweetheart Ann Lazina, who faithfully awaited my return, on June 1, 1946. Our life together lasted 42 years before my lovely wife passed away. We were blessed with two fine children, Albert Jr. and Gailann. They in turn presented us with six beautiful grandchildren. Albert Jr. has one girl and two boys and Gailann has three beautiful girls.
In 1985 I retired after 30 years with the US. Postal Service. Right now I'm enjoying life and taking it one day at a time. With the grace of God I hope to enjoy many more years of happy and healthful times.
Story Of My Captivity (Timeline)
On September 17, 1944 at the Siegfried Line in Germany, I sustained shrapnel wounds to my thigh and foot. The Germans counter attacked and I was taken prisoner in a pill box that I had taken refuge in. From the first moments of my capture I was under constant fear that I would be put to death by my captors or killed by friendly forces. Being a POW is humiliating and fearful, not knowing what would happen from day to day.
Other POWs carried me to a farmhouse that was being used by the Germans as a place to treat their wounded; here shrapnel was taken from my thigh without any anesthesia. I was then put in a house that was being used as a place to get healed. After six weeks I was put in a hospital run by captured American and English doctors.
In the early part of January 1945 I was taken to Stalag 2B in Hammerstein, Germany. Conditions here were terrible. In the dead of winter we suffered terribly, sleeping on board with a little straw, no heat, nothing to keep us warm except the clothes we had worn. We were fed rutabaga soup and black bread about two inches thick that we sliced into very thin slices so that it would last longer. We received no toilet articles and tried to keep clean with cold water. We had outside toilets, which were a torture to use in the winter.
I was at Stalag IIB for about three weeks until we were forced to leave and walk westward to avoid the Russians. This was the middle of a very bad snowstorm. After about 50 days, 200 of us were put in a stockade at a military air base in Hagenow, Germany. Living conditions here were no better but at least we received Red Cross parcels. Here again we were in fear of friendly aircraft from which we were under attack many times while working in and around the airport.
On May 2, 1945 we were liberated by elements of the 8th Infantry Division. Thank God!
Timeline Of Evacuation Of POW Camp
EVACUATION OF POW CAMP STALAG IIB HAMMERSTEIN, GERMANY
JAN. 29, 1945 TO MARCH 19, 1945
Jan. 29, 1945 Stalag to HINTTEN 25 Km
Jan. 30, 1945 REST
Jan. 31, 1945 (1 a.m.) HINTTEN to EICHENBERG 15 Km
Feb. 01, 1945 Eichenberg to ALTKOPRIEBEN 15 Km
Feb. 02, 1945 Altkoprieben to KLAUSHAGEN 15 Km
Feb. 03, 1945 Klaushagen to GERDOF 15 Km
Feb. 04, 1945 Gerdof to KLUTZHOW 14 Km
Feb. 05, 1945 Klutzhow to SHIVELBIEN 15 Km
Feb. 06, 1945 REST
Feb. 07, 1945 REST
Feb. 08, 1945 Shivelbien to LABES 22 Km
Feb. 09, 1945 Labes to RADOW 16 Km
Feb. 10, 1945 Radow to FARBENZIN 16 Km
Feb. 11, 1945 Farbenzin to FRIEDRICKSBERG 14 Km
Feb. 12, 1945 Friedricksberg to BATZFALL 16 Km
Feb. 13, 1945 Batzfall toWIEDSOCK 10 Km
Feb. 14, 1945 REST
Feb. 15, 1945 REST
Feb. 16, 1945 Wiedstock to HAGEN TO WOLLIN 34 Km (Slept in Pritzerwoods)
Feb. 17, 1945 Crossed a bay and slept in a barn on a farm 18 Km
Feb. 18, 1945 SLEPT 10 Km East of ANKLAM 18 Km
Feb. 19, 1945 Anklam to MEDOW 18 Km
Feb. 20, 1945 Medow to CLEMPENOW 16 Km
Feb. 21, 1945 REST
Feb. 22, 1945 Clempenow to DAHLEN 36 Km (near Neubrandenburg)
Feb. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 & MARCH 1-6 LAYOVER 1 RED CROSS PARCEL PER MAN
Mar. 07, 1945 Dahlen to REINBERG 22 Km
Mar. 08, 1945 Reinberg to GURZENSDORF 20 Km
Mar. 09. 1945 Gurzensdorf to GROSS DAHLEN 19 Km
Mar. 10, 1945 Gross Dahlen to WARREN to LANOW 32 Km
Mar. 11, 1945 REST
Mar. 12, 1945 ?
Mar. 13, 1945 ? to BELOW 18 Km
Mar. 14, 1945 Below to BAMIN 24 Km
Mar. 15, 1945 Bamin to CRIVITZ to TRAMM 12 Km
Mar. 16, 1945 REST
Mar. 17, 1945 REST, 3 MEN ON A PARCEL
Mar. 18, 1945 Tramm to WITHYOOMIN 26 Km
Mar. 19, 1945 Withyoomin to HAGENOW 10 Km
May 02, 1945 LIBERATED BY #8 INF. DIV.
May 05, 1945 Left Haganow on G.I. Trucks for Airport Near Hannover to Be flown to Camp Lucky Strike in France. Eventually to be shipped back to USA.
At HAGENOW, about 200 POWs were put in two buildings and were forced to work in and around a military air base. On one work detail near the airport we were strafed by friendly airplanes
Message to Future Generations
My message to anyone reading this is: Freedom cannot be taken for granted, it must be protected and fought for. If you want to know about freedom ask one of us.