Irwin A. Welling was born December 27, 1922, he was born in Millbury, OH.
He was drafted into the service on Jan. 22, 1943, with basic training at St. Petersburg FL; Field Armament School at Lowery Field, Denver CO; Gunnery School at Harlingen, TX; crew flight training at Ephrata, WA.
He went overseas on Jan. 18, 1944, to Gladton Airfield in England, with the 8th AAF 457 BG 749 BS. On the 23rd mission to Dessau, Germany, while on the bomb run over the target, his B-17 Bomber, named "Black Puff Polly," was attacked by fighter planes and knocked out of formation.
With their plane badly damaged, the crew flew alone back as far as Bremen, Germany when it was hit by flack in radio room, killing the radio operator. Nine crewmen bailed out and were taken prisoners on May 28, 1944.
Irwin was sent to an interrogation center at Wetzler, Frankfort Germany, and then took a long miserable boxcar ride to Stalag Luft IV in Northern Poland.
"On Feb. 6, 1945, the Russian Army was moving close to Stalag Luft IV. "We left camp on a forced march to the west and spent the next 85 days on the 'Black Death March' covering about 500 miles. The winter of 1944 and 1945 was a cold and snowy one. Many of the POWs had frozen and frostbitten feet and suffered from malnutrition.
"We were liberated by the British Army on May 2, 1945."
Returning home in June on a rest leave, Irwin married Alberna Wilkins on Aug. 11, 1945, to whom he had been engaged before going overseas to England.
He was discharged from the service on Oct. 31, 1945, and returned to the family farm, He and Alberna raised three children, two daughters and a son. He was still helping his son on the farm as of Dec. 11, 2005, when this biography was written.
[Ed note: Irwin Welling passed away at age 87 on July 29, 2010, at the Toledo Hospital as a result of complications from injuries sustained during a tornado which struck Ohio that summer.]