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Biography
Vanderhoof with wife
Merl Q. Vanderhoof with his wife Rosemary 50th Anniversary, 4 March 96
Vanderhoof Vanderhoof 1943
Merl as a POW, 4 Feb. 1944 Tech. Sgt. Merl Vanderhoof, Sept. 1943
Last Name:
VANDERHOOF
First Name Middle Initial:
MERL Q
Nick Name:
Van
Street:  506 W. END AVE City & State: NEWTON, IL E-Mail: mqmcvanderhoof@psbnewton.com
Zip: 62448 Phone:  (618) 783-2793 Spouse: MARTHA
Conflict: WW II Service Branch: Army Air Corp Unit: 15 AF 98 BG 415 BS
Theater: ETO Where Captured: CZECHOSLOVAKIA Date Captured: 02/22/44
Camps Held In: DULAG LUFT, STALAG LUFT 6, 4, STALAG 7A, 13D How Long Interned: 432 days
Liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 04/29/45 Age at Capture: 22
Medals Received: AIR MEDAL WITH BRONZE & SILVER CLUSTER, PRISONER OF WAR MEDAL
Military Job: TECH SGT, Engineer Gunner Company: TIRE STORE OWNER
Occupation after War: RETAIL SALES

 

Bio:

Merl Quincy Vanderhoof, Serial #36061472, POW #1866, was born 5 August 1921, and entered the service on 5 June 1942. He took Basic training Jefferson Barracks, MO and Engine School in St. Charles, MO. Merl worked in the engine repair, electric department, in Hill Field, Utah. He took gunnery training in Las Vegas, Nevada and flight training in Pocatella, Idaho on B-24s. Merl got a new B-24D in Herrington, Kansas July 1943. He left the States 6 August 1943 –and went to Gander Lake, Newfoundland - Preswick, Scotland - Casablanca, Morocco - Algeria - on to Benina Main Airfield - Benghazi, Libya. There he joined the 98th Bomb Group (H) 415th B.S. under COL. "Killer" Kane, leader on low level Ploesti raid 1 August 1943. Flew first raid 19 August to Fogia, Italy - light but accurate flak - no fighters. Went in at about 24000 feet most targets - North Africa - Sicily Italy - Greece - Crete - Germany. Rhodes Island shipping on Mediterranean Sea. Later moved to Sfax near Tunis - then Brindisi, Manduria, later Lecce, Italy.

On 22 Feb. 1944 they helped the ground crew on daily inspection. The #3 engine had 150 rpm drop on right mag. They cleared it to 115 and decided it would clear on takeoff. Merl was supposed to ground the plane when the rpm drop was over 75 on any check out but they needed this raid, then 12 more and head for States! The engine cleared all right but when the fighters hit on nose attack the plane caught a rocket in #1 so it was out, then the extra pull caused #3 to act up again. So Merl’s crew ran on 2-1/2 engines (not nice) and was soon dropping behind. The fighters picked off the rear first so they knew when it was their turn. With controls out they left the ship at about 18000 feet. Merl had to put his foot in one boy's belly to get him out, and then he helped Brinkman as he had been shot through calf of leg. Then Merl dropped out. Free fell for about 3000 to 5000 feet to catch Brink so he could help him. Landed in snow about hip deep. With civilian help got Brink to doctor and leg fixed up. Spent 2 days in solitary then was sent by train to Dulag Luft Interrogation Center. The Germans knew more about the outfit then he did. Merl was then sent packed with 40 other men in a 40 & 8 boxcar for 8 days to Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug, East Prussia. Heleft Heydekrug on 15 July for 3 nights, 4 days on a coal boat ride to Stettin then by train to Keifheidi, Germany, 2 men handcuffed together. Double-time 5 kilometers to Stalag Luft IV. 10 to 15 year old Marines with dogs, and bayonets all kept us moving. Machine gun nests alongside for stragglers. On 31 January 1945 Merl was sent by train to Nuremburg with 2-night stop in Berlin to be bombed. Arrived Stamlager XIIID 8 February 1945 20, 21, 22 February had day and night bombingthet flattened Nurenberg.

4 April 1945 started march toward Moosberg, strafed by 2 P47's on 1st day out, they put up flag so after that had fighter escort on into Moosberg. Merl was liberated on 29 April 1945. On 10 May went to Camp Lucky Strike then sailed for States. Merl finally reached home on 31 May 1945. Met Rosemary for first date 4 July and married her on 4 March 1946. They now have two sons Ronald and Quincy and one daughter Susan, 5 grandsons, 3 granddaughters. Merl lost Rosemary 24 February 1998, after 52 years of married life.

Merl still owns a tire store, which he started 26 November 1945 but does not work. After 54 years and countless hours he kind of enjoys the FREEDOM.

 

Message to Future Generations:

Please use your right to vote and elect someone to office that has our country's good at heart and not just for his/her own power and greed. If we have another world war, it will put all the other ones combined to shame. Could be the end of the world I'm ready if the Lord is ready for me. Merl

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