AN EASTER REMEMBERED
As we approach this Millennium Year 2000 Holy Week Palm Sunday to Easter it was at another time 55 years ago there were many mothers who had a son or other family member in World War II. The days of the week and month in 1945 were not aligned the same as year 2000. That Sunday April 1, 1945 was another Easter but earlier than this year 2000 it is the focus of this narrative.
There was this family member in this story a son who flew with the 8th Air Force in Europe WWII. It was on their 25th mission, shot down and listed as Missing in Action or maybe dead. This mother already had three out of eight other sons in the military. There was this mother who from January 6, 1945 after contacting many government agencies and officials to April 1, 1945 did not know the status of her son. Only that he and his crew were MIA. After 3 months of tireless exchange of letters and not knowing the circumstances of her son and his fellow crew members. She was to about give up on the government contacts and in her mind no knowledge means her son was dead. It was said Prisoner's Of War were sacrificed like those who gave the Supreme Sacrifice.
This mother would not give up, her faith prevailed, the faith she inherited from her ancestors who came to this country back in 1854. So she kept the faith not knowing, potentially she may become a Gold Star Mother although she did not post the Gold Star in the family front window of their rural country home in southern Indiana.
There was a reason for the delay of a telegram sent out on Saturday March 31, 1945. The telegram came in on Saturday night Easter Eve at 11:00 P. M. and rural postal delivery had been completed for that day. Due to the area being rural farm the telegram was sent to the nearest telegraph office, it was 15 miles Petersburg, Indiana away from the rural farm residence. Nobody from telegraph office knew who this was and who to contact but due to the message knew it to be important. In the same county the small town Post Office Otwell, Indiana was 9 miles away from the telegraph office the family residence was another 5 miles east further across the county line in another county. On that Easter Sunday April 1, 1945 after being contacted by Telegraph Office only the small town postal deliveryman (Sam Anderson) knew who the telegram was for in the very rural area. The postal deliveryman went nine miles to the telegraph office late at night then back to pick it up for delivery. He knew on this next day Easter Sunday where to find the family in church so he took the telegram to the church.
The family attended church regularly and on that Easter Sunday were at their committed favorite assembly with fellow Christians. You see it was a good news telegram on that Easter Sunday April 1, 1945 that the postal deliveryman took time to deliver. The telegram was received and read before the church congregation stating their son was alive and a Prisoner Of War in Germany. There was much elation, gratitude and thanksgiving and in that order by the whole church congregation.
The family also at this Easter time did not know that from Wednesday April 4 to 17, 1945. There son and crew with 10,000 others had completed their last leg of 85 miles forced march from Stalag XIII-D at Nurenburg to Stalag VII-A at Moosburg. What turned out to be the end of their 345 mile forced march across Germany.
The story from this Easter continued on for another 28 days. Another and the last Sunday April 29, 1945 the son was Liberated at 11:00 A. M. with 120,000 others of all nationalities and ethnic background. The Liberation was by American General George Patton's 3rd Army, 14th Armored Division. Another telegram went out in early May sponsored by the U. S. Government on the sons behalf he was able to state in his own words the joy of Liberation and back in the hands of the military.
There is an epilogue to this story. How in this one eventful year 1945 the Airman was shot down on his 25th mission January 6, 1945, taken Prisoner Of War then liberated April 29, 1945. This is the 55th Anniversary year of Liberation. The WWII war in Europe ended in May the Airman arrived home on June 14th, 1945. He was engaged to be married to his sweetheart who waited for him through this MIA trial of anxiety, stress and tears. Then on July 6, 1945 they were married. Their marriage this year of 2000 will be the 55th Anniversary. The WWII war in the Pacific ended on September 2, 1945. It was a very eventful year. In celebration on July 8, 2000 this Airman this year with his 78th birthday identifies this as a "Celebration of Life", the "Focus Is Of Faith".
----- Marion C. Hoffman
Biography of Marion C. Hoffman, 323rd Sqdn, 91st Bmb Grp, 8th AF, USAAF
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