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Interview with Frank Furiga [February 17, 2004]

Frank Furiga:

And I'm ready to spill out my guts.

Thomas Swope:

Good. Where were you living in 1941?

Frank Furiga:

In 1941, I was living in western Pennsylvania. My family was, unfortunately, because of circumstances of time and things, and the origin of my father, came from Europe, from Czechoslovakia, and my mother, she came from the Ukraine area, and they met in another coal mining town. She married him, he had already had three kids. And she was hired originally to help around the house, and she wound up being his wife. So they moved from coal mining town to coal mining town in western Pennsylvania. So, finally, they found this little farm like, about five acres, a nice view from the hills, out in the country about two miles west of the city of Avella, Pennsylvania, A-V-E-L-L-A, which is in Washington County. And we thrived very well because we had cows and chickens, and we had gardens. So my mother did canning and so forth. So while the other people during the Depression were suffering, we did pretty well because we always had food. And we also had -- my father built a European style baking oven -- it was a huge monstrous thing -- out of brick. And they'd build a fire in there and then after the wood had burned they'd rake the ashes out and then put the loaves of bread in there or pastry, or whatever it was, and such delicious bread. We had people that -- traveling salesmen and all, my mother would give them that bread and they said -- they'd come back years later and they said, "Do you still make that bread?" And so she was famous for that. But we had one very tragic incident in our house. It was shortly after Christmas. I had a sister. Her name was Pauline. Well, I was like about one then and Pauline was probably about two and a half. And my mother had to go out like maybe, say, 500 feet from the house to give the two cows we had water and throw out some feed in the chicken coop for the chickens. And there was a Christmas tree in the bedroom. And back in those days, they actually put clipped onto the tree limbs wax candles. And my mother said to her, "Now, Pauline," she says, "you be a good girl." She says, "While I'm gone," she says, "don't do anything back by the Christmas tree." So she had just gotten to the barn and she heard her screaming. So she ran back to the house. And she had kind of a frilly dress on, and she had set herself on fire. So my mother beat her out. She lived several days. And this is very interesting, how we know when she died. West of us not too far was Ohio and West Virginia, and there are a lot of steel mills there. And on New Year's Day evening the mills would sound off their horns, you know, to let the people know it was the New Year's. And my brother was rocking her and she was singing a little song, and she was pretty sick because she was recovering from the burns. And she was -- when the horn sounded at the mill that it was New Year's Day, she stopped in the middle of a sentence and she was dead. Very sad. I don't remember much about it because I was too young. But that destroyed the family. I mean, they never were -- we were always very cautious about what was being done around the house with matches and all the other stuff, but that was a very poignant and unfortunate thing that happened. But that's life I guess. It was her destiny. So I always think about her. I have one picture of her. She was a beautiful little blonde. And that's the one big tragedy at that time. Of course, as life went on, people got killed in the coal mines. Nobody from my family, but we had neighbors that got killed in the coal mines. And then the wars came and boys got killed in the war.

Thomas Swope:

Do you have specific memories of December 7th, 1941?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, yes, uh-huh. Oh, yeah. I recall that very well. And everybody was, you know, worked up to a froth because we knew that the only thing was that somebody's got to go fight these wars, you know. And --

Thomas Swope:

Do you remember actually hearing the news on that day?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, yeah. We had a battery-operated radio. We had a Sears Roebuck radio that was -- the original one we had to have four batteries to power it. It was an

Frank Furiga:

B, C and D. But then later on as the war went along we bought a newer model and it only required one power pack. And we would sit around in the evening, we were listening to San Francisco or St. Louis or like that, or, you know, Pittsburgh, whatever. It had a tremendous reception, and the reason was because one of my brothers, he was out walking around the woods one day and he saw what they had -- the linemen had been working on the telephone lines and they left a huge piece of copper wire behind. So, "Boy," he said, "that would make a good antenna." So he brought this home, and he put a post on top of the house, and he ran that from our house to the barn, and we used to listen to Germany at night. There was some radical rousers in Germany that would speak to America, and we'd listen to all those broadcasts. We used to listen to England at night. And it was a battery-operated radio and it cost us like maybe $50 at the most. But I loved those days because today you go, you could spend a couple hundred dollars, it's not as good as that one was, you know.

Thomas Swope:

____+

Frank Furiga:

Well, somewhere in here I have a radio that will do it.

Thomas Swope:

So you would be about I guess 16 when that happened, when America went to war?

Frank Furiga:

Uh-huh.

Thomas Swope:

Still in school?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, I was, yeah. I was not that high in age, but I knew that, you know, things were getting tough, that eventually I might end up going. And, of course, I always had my eye on the sky, and I says, "If I go, this is where I'm going." So then when I was in my senior year in high school they started a thing they were inducted at 17-year-old age. And I explained to my mother and father, hey, look, I have to go anyway, and I would rather go in and present myself and sign myself up for something that I know is what I wanted rather than be called out and be in a medical corps or, you know. So I took a bus to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, went down there one day and I took the preliminary exams, and I came back the next day and took the medical exams. And of the group of guys that were there taking exams, I had the second highest score. Well, that made me feel really good because I was with college boys and I had the second highest score. So, you know, so now we're in the circuit. So I went home and had to wait for the letter telling me where to report. So I reported to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And from Pittsburgh, we went by train to Nashville, Tennessee. And Nashville, Tennessee, was the reception area for the air corps, and there were all kind of young guys like me running around there. And we were there, we were given various tests, like pinball machines testing our reflexes and all, you know. And so they says, "Okay, you're in good shape. You passed." And they said, "We think" -- I wanted to be a pilot. They said, "We think you'd do better as a bombardier." So you can't argue with the top of the, you know, the company and --

Thomas Swope:

Did they give any reason why they thought you would be better qualified to be a bombardier?

Frank Furiga:

No. They said, "Your tests showed that you'd be better as a bombardier." So I don't know how that was. But anyway. So we got on a train in Nashville. We rode for about two and a half days -- it was a long trip -- to Denning, New Mexico. It was a nice small town in New Mexico, and this is where the bombardier school was. So we went up in planes that are twin engine planes, Beechcraft AT11. And I have a picture of it here. That's the plane I took my bombing in. And we would go up two students at one time with one pilot. And we had certain areas where they had bombing ranges, and the targets at night would be lighted up or in the daytime you could visually see the target. So then you would make the bomb run and you want to hit the center of the target. So I did pretty well. I did my best bombing at night, believe it or not. And if you dropped the bomb in the middle of the target that was called "getting a shack" because there was a little shack built in there, wooden shack. And I did my best at night. I got I think about four or five shacks at night, and I didn't get any during the day. And I don't know why that was, but, oh, boy. So then at night -- the pilots were young guys like we were, so sometimes they let me fly the plane back to the field. You know, what a thrill. I mean, here I am and my guys are still back in school and I'm flying a plane, you know, so.

Thomas Swope:

Did you actually go into the Army Air Corps before you graduated from high school?

Frank Furiga:

Well --

Thomas Swope:

Or did you graduate first?

Frank Furiga:

No. I graduate -- I didn't graduate.

Thomas Swope:

I see.

Frank Furiga:

I left before I graduated.

Thomas Swope:

So you went in in '42 then?

Frank Furiga:

No, '43.

Thomas Swope:

'43, okay.

Frank Furiga:

Right. Yeah. So then from Denning, New Mexico, we went to gunnery school. No, wait a while. We went to -- yeah, Santa Ana, California, we went to for further cadets training, where we learned all kinds of military things. And every Sunday we had a parade, and it was hot in the California sun. They had a huge macadamized area. It must have been like three counties over the surface. And they had all of these officials from the city would come out, and the generals would come out and all. And the cadets, we'd stand for hours on the parade ground waiting for the parade to start. And then when the parade started, it was over in about 20 minutes, half an hour. And we did that every Sunday. And so when I was there I got some -- they called it nasopharyngitis. It kind of -- I was pretty sick. I was in the base hospital. And so that set me back a couple of weeks. But then when I recovered from that I finished that training there. And then we had to go to gunnery school, and that we went to Kingman, Arizona. And we had some wild pilots. Now, we're flying in B-17s now. I mean, this is big stuff. And, you know, they'll take about six students maybe up in a B-17, 50 caliber machine guns in all the ports, and planes would come by towing targets, and you had a distinctive color of your bullet, so that's how they knew how well you did. And then -- we had young crazy pilots. After the striking runs and all were over with shooting at the targets, then we'd go down to the Grand Canyon. Never in my life have I ever thought about that. I still think about it. It was -- here we are with a big four-engine bomber down inside the Grand Canyon. These guys are giving us a tour. And they knew how to make their way around in there. Nobody ever crashed. But that was one of the highlights of going down in there. So then after that was through in around Christmas of 1944, I was qualified and we had a big ceremony. We got our bombardier's wings. And we went to a little men's store in Denning, New Mexico. It was called Pop Littell's (ph). And Pop had the contract to supply the uniforms. So we went down there a week before and got all measured out and everything, and then he ordered the things in, and then we had the day that we graduated and we all went down and got in our uniforms with no bars or anything. And then we had the ceremony, and then we pinned our bars on and we were officers now. And there were guys that knew that these are new officers now and they would stand around, enlisted men, at strategic places and salute you, and you had to give them a dollar. So we had one, he was with us in training, and I don't think he ever got any place far in life, but he was hanging around the different barracks picking up money saluting the guys. So from there we went home on leave, and I went back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I remember it was in the evening -- it was a long train trip. They got in Pittsburg station in the evening. My sisters were waiting. And they took me into downtown Pittsburgh, a famous place then, it was the Seventh Avenue Cocktail Lounge. And we walked in the door, and there were everywhere I looked, there were women sitting around tables everywhere. I saw one or two guys. It was all women because the boys were away at war. And as we were walking between the tables to find a place to sit, they would grab a hold of me and they wouldn't let go. They were tugging on my blouse and everything. It was a wild time. So I'll never forget that night. So then I had to go back in after that little vacation was over and I reported for duty and that's where I met the rest of the crew. And then I think we went to Salt Lake City, Utah, for further training flying together, and then we got the time and, "Okay, boys, you're going overseas now." So we got up early one morning, loaded the B-17 with our artifacts and luggage and all, and we took off early in the morning at dawn. And then we started flying up to the Eastern Seaboard and we landed at Grenier Airfield in New Hampshire. We had to stop there for the night. The next day we flew to Iceland. And, boy, for a young guy, that was quite a thrill, you know. Here we are flying to Iceland. So we landed in Iceland and it was the time of the year -- it was about like in July. It's they called it the land of the midnight Sun. The sun never went down. So I was -- we all took turns guarding the plane, and I'm out there two o'clock in the morning, three o'clock picking little violets that are growing around the plane and the sun is high in the sky. So then we got in the plane and now we flew to northern England area, you know, that's the -- I can't remember now. We landed in Ireland. And from Ireland we took a boat to Scotland, and we took a train to England and to our air base. And then we were at the air base like maybe a week and our pilot, he went up first. He went with the regular, well-organized, seasoned crew. And he went as a co-pilot. So then the very next mission was a mission with us.

Thomas Swope:

Do you have specific memories of that first mission?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, indeed, I do. I have memories of all the missions. We were to fly 35 missions, but I never got that far. What happened was the -- when you went to the targets in Germany, they would lay down flaks in the sky that would be so thick that, you know, you couldn't imagine how in the hell am I going to get through this. But we did. Some chipped a wing tip off or some planes got hit and they went down in the flames and all that. And I'm sitting up in the front in the nose and this vast panorama of this conflict is going on before me. It's like being in the Cinerama theater and watching all this, you know. So I flew 10 missions as a bombardier. Now, in this combat category, I didn't use the bomb sight, because we had a lead bombardier. Then we had a second plane that was the secondary lead. So we went to the point of target. If the first one got hit, the second one did it. And they lined us up on a target, and then when he dropped the bombs, we dropped our bombs at the same time. And that was a saturation bombing, and that's why that was so destructive in Germany. I mean, we dropped so many thousand pounds of bombs in concentrated areas that it's amazing that some cities survived, you know. And so then while I'm doing this I got to my 10th mission and they called me in one day and they say, "You know, we have a need desperately for navigators." So, okay. So I went up with the combat-seasoned veteran navigator flying a B-17 during the day. Then we went up at night learning how to get around at night and all. And then says, "Okay, you can go out as a navigator now." So then I did that for a while with my crew or other crews. I'd go to the combat ready hall and I wouldn't know if I was flying with my crew or with somebody else. So then they came up with another job they wanted me, and I had to ride in the tail and was like kind of a coordinator. I had to -- I rode with the lead planes, with colonels or majors, and my job in the back there, I had a big flat board in front of me and I had all the planes on there. When I looked at that board, it was like I was looking at the sky. And I had to report to him, "Oh, 507 just got hit and lost a wing," and all of this. See, he had to know all the time what's going on. And so that was some very interesting experience, I'll tell you. So then --

Thomas Swope:

How many missions did you do that?

Frank Furiga:

I think it was about six missions I think I did that. Maybe more than that. I have to look at my facts. But then they -- there was a mission came up and they were short on navigators, and they said to me, "You know, we got this plane here. We need a navigator for it. You're a qualified navigator, so you got to go." And so I had to go. So that's the day we parachuted out. I mean, we were going down a bomb run and we started to get shot up, you know. There were holes in the plane and all. And then all of a sudden there was a fire, and we hadn't got to the target yet, in the back, and we hadn't dropped the bombs yet, which is a very hazardous time to have a fire. So, anyway, what happened was I'm up in the nose, and I looked back and I see the co-pilot, he puts on the parachute chest pack, boom, he goes out of the hatch. And right behind him is the next guy. So then, you know, I come out into that area there underneath the pilot and co-pilot. The co-pilot is gone. And here I am, I was the navigator. And then one of the other guys, the top turret gunner is gone. He went out, too. And the ball turret gunner goes out. So I said, "The pilot knew something that I don't know yet, but it must be bad if these guys are going." So then I parachuted out. And I prayed hard. I put my hands on my rip cord and I went right out of the front hatch. And I tumbled and turned. We were at high altitude and I said, "Don't open it right away." So then when I sensed that I was probably low enough I pulled the cord. Nothing happened. And all of a sudden I had an intense pain in my groin. And I look up and there was this big white umbrella above me. Man, what a relief. And I looked down below at the German landscape and all I can see is railroad trains and boats on the river, but I don't see any traffic. But I got out at 30,000 feet. So that high you don't really see that, see. So as I got lower, I started seeing the motor traffic, trains. And, boy, I don't know what kind of reception I'm going to have. And I had in my pocket here, I always carried with me, I had a Catholic prayer book and it had a brass cover on it. I carried it here because it protects my heart, you know. So I had those things. I had my identification things in my wallet and all. And I'm coming down lower and I see I'm headed for a big factory. And I see red circles. People are watching me. They're watching me. And I see across a field a guy is running with a gun pointed at my head, and he's running like a crazy man, way far away. He's running across the field. He's got the gun pointed at me. So when I got to that -- in front of that factory, I hit the ground. And I had -- usually I wore shoes inside my boots, but I had the shoes attached to my parachute harness and that day I hadn't put my shoes on. So when I landed, I broke my leg immediately. The pain went up, right up to my head. And I said, "Oh, God damn. What I need now is a broken leg." So they were all on top of me, "Haben die pistole? Haben die -- where is the pistole?" and all this other stuff. They started tearing my clothes open and all looking for contraband stuff. So then they helped me up, you know, and some older -- older people, they were more kinder to me than the younger people. So then they helped me all and, you know, so then he points to the railroad station and there's a box car there. He says, "Kommen sie." We have to go over there. So I go over there. And there was a box car that was outfitted like an office. It had a fire and a stove, you know. And there was an old guy. He was in soldier's uniform. He must have been about 80 years old. So they left me with him and said something in German about, "We'll be back," you know. So, you know, I said, "My leg is bad." Schmerzen is the pain, you know. I did learn that. So here's this guy here, and I just happened to remember, my God, I have a little slip of paper in my pocket that has a few things about the radar, so. They gave us Hershey bars, candy, to take with us and hard candy. And I look at this old guy. What am I -- how am I going to get rid of this? So this guy, he's tending the fire, you know. So I go over to offer him the candy bar. "Nicht, nicht." He doesn't want it. So I take that paper, put it in my mouth and start chewing on it and eating the candy as fast as I could, and I swallowed that secret piece of information. So then they came just at the twilight, some roustabouts came. I call them roustabouts because they were making noise and they were pushing everybody around and all. Soldiers, you know. So they came in a pickup truck, and I got in the pickup truck and the three -- two other crew members were in that pickup truck. Boy, were they glad to see me and I was glad to see them. So they took us to an airfield, and at this airfield was not only like a military barracks, but the larger part of it was like a confinement place. It was like a military type of small prison like. So we were docked in there and I was assigned a room. And I soon see that there's civilians walking around there, too, you know. So they were confinees also with us. And they separated us. You couldn't talk to the other guys, you know. And but these fellows that were -- they were playing cards I remember this one night and they, "Kommen sie." So then I'd come over there and they were playing cards and they try to converse with me, you know. And the cell that I was assigned to had been used by many other prisoners before, but on one whole wall was gorgeous paintings, and they told me that it was a Frenchman that was a prisoner there and he was an artist and he painted that whole wall. So in the mornings -- we were there like about four days -- I listened. What the hell is that noise? That sounds to me like a B-17 winding up, so. That can't be, so. We didn't, you know, associate. They didn't let us move around. So I said, "It's got to be." So then the next morning again, you know, they would throttle up the engines and then it would cut off. Well, here we're, excuse me, we're at an airfield where there was a captured B-17 that they had rebuilt and it was ready to fly, but they didn't have anybody that had the nerve enough to take it off the ground. So when -- after the liberation and all -- this has appeared in several articles in newspapers where they found this B-17 that was functioning and could be flown, but they were afraid to fly it because they didn't have the experience. But that first day when I was in that place these three handsome young guys came in. They had fur collars, nice uniforms. Germans. They had leather boots up to their knees. And, here, they were the fighter pilots that were out there that day we were flying around, and they came to see -- they thought that I might be one of them that they shot down, but it wasn't. I was not in the fighter plane. Because they did shoot a couple of our fighter planes down that day. So, they looked like they might have been 18-19 years old. And, of course, they said things to me in German and, you know, I didn't know. But that was explained to me later that's who these fellows were. So then we were there about another four more days and they took us to another hospital, and then I started working my way through hospitals and I wound up at the one where I was at when I was liberated. And it was called Schutzenhaus, shooting house. And it was quite an elaborate place. It was a German recreational place. They had shooting galleries in there. They had a huge gymnasium floor. And they had carried on activities in there prior to the war I imagine. But it was known as Schutzenhaus Meiningen So now one day we had to narrate and the bombers were low. We didn't usually go down when they were high. But everybody said, "You better go down into the cellars." So it was the first time I was ever -- I didn't know they had wine cellars there. So we went down the steps into the secondary basement that was the lowest. We went down to the basement then another basement. And here guys are running around. There's some wooden crates in there. The crates were packed with these beer mugs and they had taken them down there to protect them from air raids. So what happens? Every one of us takes one. So I carried this beer mug here, a Schutzenhaus Meiningen, which had the targets on it, all the way to America wrapped up in a towel to protect it. So then when we were liberated by our army, and we were there several days and then they started the trek home. We were taken to an air field. From there we flew back to England. And we were then taken to Scotland and we were in a hospital in Scotland. And then when the doctors felt that we were in good enough shape, then we were sent home. And I never was in a boat. I always flew. So then we flew home to America in a huge, at that time, four-engine passenger plane and there was like maybe 40 of us on board. And we landed up in the New York area, and then I was in the hospital up there for a while. And then they thought I was in pretty good shape. I forgot to tell you I contracted diphtheria when I was in this hospital and I was a pretty sick boy.

Thomas Swope:

In the hospital in Stateside?

Frank Furiga:

No, no, no.

Thomas Swope:

Back in Germany?

Frank Furiga:

The hospital in Germany.

Thomas Swope:

Okay. At this place?

Frank Furiga:

The Schutzenhaus.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Frank Furiga:

I had diphtheria, and I was really sick. German doctors were coming in and looking at me, and they were just shaking their heads. But it was all in my chest, inflamed in my throat and all. And they would come in at night and look in my ears and all, you know. And then some other doctors that came and looked at me. So then they isolated me so that I wouldn't infect the other people, and I was in a huge prefabricated barracks. And this barracks was made there -- they were looking forward to more prisoners coming. And this was immense barracks. It was German engineering. This barracks was built beautifully. Pine boards -- oak boards, I mean, were matched side by side, and it was so airtight that I was in that barracks there was never a fire in the stove. Just from the -- my blankets and all. And a male nurse came in twice a day. He gave me breakfast in the morning, and then he came in in the evening. And that was my only contact with humanity. And that went on for about five days, and then they thought that I was in pretty good shape. I went back to the rest of the boys. But I was the only one of the whole gang to have got diphtheria, which is amazing. And I always remember that. When they talk diphtheria, I can tell you that's a bad thing to have. That gets involved with your heart, with your lungs and all, you know, your nasal passages, and you get pretty sick, high temperature and so forth. So then, you know, when we came back to the states, then we were -- I was in the hospital up in New York State and, excuse me, then they says, "What part of the country do you live in?" I told them. They says, "Would you want to go to a hospital that's close to home?" Well, of course, you know. So they sent me to Deshon General Hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania. And by that time my mother had left my father, and with my sisters they obtained an apartment in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So I went directly from Butler, Pennsylvania by bus to Pittsburgh, took a street car to my new home. And I was there for a while recuperating, and then I had to go in for a checkup twice, and finally I was -- I went and got discharged.

Thomas Swope:

Had you seen your family at any time before you went back to Pittsburgh? Did they visit you in the hospital?

Frank Furiga:

No.

Thomas Swope:

So what was --

Frank Furiga:

Oh, no, wait a while. I take that back. One of my sisters did visit me.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Frank Furiga:

She came by bus from Pittsburgh to visit me, yeah. Deshon General Hospital. As far as I know, it still stands there. I don't know what they use it for now, but --

Thomas Swope:

What was your reunion like when you did get back to Pittsburgh and seen the rest of the family?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, my God. It was unbelievable because we were coming up to Christmas and that first Christmas to be home, you know. And it was bad for my mother because Johnny wasn't there. And he was, he was quite a guy. He was very well educated from reading. He read newspapers and books. And a very interesting thing happened. This is before World War II started. A lady came from the eastern part of the country to write a book about the coal miners and the way they lived. So my brother was -- he was very congenial, talkative and all, and he got -- she lined up with him. And he took her around to different coal mines and different places. And she wrote a book, I went to Pit College. And I will show this book to you here. I went to Pit College. Her name was Lauren Gilfillan.

Thomas Swope:

Uh-huh.

Frank Furiga:

She came from the New York area and it was published by Viking. It was a very popular book. This is a structure outside of a coal mine that's on the cover here. And I found this in a used book store and I almost passed out. It's in such good condition.

Thomas Swope:

Now, Johnny was your brother, one of your brothers?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, yeah. He was the oldest.

Thomas Swope:

And what happened to Johnny?

Frank Furiga:

Well, Johnny -- when the war came, we had one brother, his name was Steven. He had already, before the war started, he had signed up with the paratroopers, and he was one of the first 82nd Airborne paratroopers. That was a famous group, 82nd Airborne. He went in so early that he was involved with training other paratroopers and all. So as the situation evolved, he wasn't never in combat areas because he was required for other duties. So before he went overseas, he was a master sergeant, which is the highest enlisted men's rating he had before he went overseas. And he was in England. I located him. I went out to his air base. And the day I came there they were jumping some paratroopers -- you had to jump 10 times I think, but maybe in combat they made it like maybe six times before they could say, "Okay, you're ready for combat." So these fellows had like maybe one or two jumps and they refused to jump any more. So they gave them the last chance. Give a little more training and says, "Okay, this is the day. You either jump today or you got to go somewhere, dig ditches or something."

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Frank Furiga:

So I was really shocked because I was an Air Corps boy all the time and, you know, I never saw -- I said, "Are they going to drop them now?" "Oh, yeah," he said, "You watch." So that plane, the C47, came down the field so low when those paratroopers left the plane to pop the chute their feet touched the ground and that was the last time they had. And they had -- the commanding officer in my brother's outfit there in England was a wise and a little bit gray-haired colonel. He was a little wisp of a guy. They called him "Colonel Smokey." And they went through all the campaigns together. Now my brother Steven, he went to North Africa. And in the interim, Johnny wanted to be in paratroopers, but they put him in a First Special Service Force. That was a big organization then. And he wound up in Italy. And Steven came from Africa and they met each other in Italy. So they got to see each other. So then Steven went back to the continent of Europe, and Johnny got killed in Italy May 23rd, 1943. So it's, you know, indelible in your mind when that happened. And he was the oldest. He was very much respected by people in the community. He was self-educated. He could talk about any subject. And that's how he enticed this author to take him on as a partner, show him around when she was writing the book. And she went back to New York, and last we heard that she was in a sanitarium of some sort. She died there. But there's people back in Avella who say, "Do you know where I could get a copy of that book?" They're still looking for it after all of these years. But I, in fact, donated the copy to the library there. So, anyway, that's essentially my life.

Thomas Swope:

What was your target the day you were shot down?

Frank Furiga:

You know, to tell you the truth, I don't remember. I think what we were doing, we were bombing a small industrial area in -- I can't remember now. It was -- it was on the edge of this town where I landed and where I was, you know, taken to the prison hospital. So I don't remember exactly where. I would have to look through my notes.

Thomas Swope:

Do you remember what date that was, the date?

Frank Furiga:

November 30th, 1944. That's like if you look at a tombstone, the tombstone there says "November 30th, 1944." I remember that so well. I remember so much about that day, you know. When I was in this caboose and the old man was taking care of me, and little kids, you know, they were peering in the windows looking, "Where is that luft gangster?" they called me, an air gangster. And they were shocked when, you know, they took me on. Here I am, I'm just a little bit older than they are, you know. But some of the civilians were pretty nice. Now, the last place I was in, the hospital I was in at Meiningen, the Schutzenhaus Meiningen, and Meiningen was a pretty fairly large city, and we were on the banks, western banks of a river, and some of the guys would go down there and watch them fishing and all of that. But the Germans there were, I would say they were very nice to us. We twice had inspectors came from Switzerland from the International Red Cross to look at our facilities, see how we were being treated and all, and they went back satisfied. Now, for meals, in the mornings we had bread. Germans devised this thing. They had bread which they baked and they packed in cans in sawdust. Schwarzbrot, black bread. Now this bread was heavily saturated with water. So if you sat the loaf on the table and you were cutting it, it squealed when you're slicing it. So now what we did in our ward, we had a stove in the corner and it had a flat top on it. So we take that over there and toast it to get -- to dry the water out. So in the mornings we would have jam and we would have olio margarine and the sandwich -- the toast. END OF FIRST TRACK, CD ONE They had some food that came in Red Cross parcels. And it would be a light lunch and then we'd have some more of that bread and, of course, ample quantities of coffee. And then in the evening they would have a little bit heavier meal. But it was nothing really -- I mean, considering the situation in Germany and the conditions that they were living under, I think we got away pretty good in that hospital. And what they would do, there was a tremendous demand for fuel, and of course the coal was going to where it was important to go. So for the homes, they had to survive on wood. So they set up crews, and some of our men who were in better health 10 at a time would go out with a German soldier and they would go up in the mountains and they would saw trees down all day long, and then they would bring that down into the city and chop it up and use it for fuel. But the guys looked forward to that. They would get out in the open, you know, and go through the little villages and all, and go up into the mountains and so. The Germans rarely ever talked to us. Once in a while, if you were standing inside the fence, maybe they'd go by and shake their fist at you, you know. So now here comes the American army. We got word, okay, the guys are coming. They'll be in this town by noon. They had a lead scout that came up in a Jeep and said, "The boys are coming," so. They didn't do any shelling as I remember. They were firing, but they were firing at individual troops ____ maybe, you know, in a cave or a hole or something. But they came into the town in Jeeps and tanks, and they drove right into our courtyard right through the fences. And, man, I'll tell you, did they ever get a greeting. We were all on top of them. They were picking soldiers up and carrying them around on their shoulders they were so excited, you know. So, the Germans, before this all happened, when they would go by they would say, "Heil Hitler," you know, and we used to laugh because it was like somebody had a string attached to their hand and that string was pulled like a puppet and it would go up, "Heil Hitler," when the officers met with each other or soldiers met the officers. So. Behind our hospital was an German brewery, and they had large caverns inside there, and that was -- on that side of the town was the air raid shelters. So when they got the word the bombers are coming, the alarms went off. You could hear it, you know. Bombers are coming. So they're running already, running up into the caverns. Women, children and men. And so then when the air raid was over with, they would sound an alarm and then everybody would be on their way home. So now, you know, they'd go by and make nasty remarks and all. But the funniest part was when the Americans liberated the city, the Germans were in the caverns for protection. So when they says, "Okay, you guys can go home now. It's all over with," so when they went by our camp they'd go, "Heil Eisenhower. Heil Eisenhower." They all knew the name. So, we were there like another week or so before we were sent to the various hospitals. So that's my story.

Thomas Swope:

Were you in the hospital the whole time you were a prisoner of war then?

Frank Furiga:

Most of the time, yeah. I was in several different hospitals, uh-huh. Oh, the other thing I forgot to tell you when they -- shortly after they captured me -- oh, yeah, this is a very exciting thing here. You had to go to Frankfurt, Germany, for interrogation. That was where the headquarters was where they interrogated you. So we got to the railroad station and we'd get on a train and the train -- as the train is progressing down to Frankfurt, it's a distance, too, we have to go. So they would attach cars and detach cars, and then the passengers changed. One time it was a whole carload of nurses, and they were going to combat areas these nurses, and they knew that we were kriegsgefangene. That was the German for prisoner of war, kriegsgefangene. So they would give us dirty looks and all, you know, and their -- you could tell by their glum faces they weren't looking forward to this because, you know, they're going to battle areas. So then another time we had soldiers. They were going to the front lines. And, boy, these guys were as vicious as hell. They had like a sergeant, he was separating our car from his car, and he was standing there like in a doorway, and these guys were singing all these German war songs, you know, and checking their guns and all. They're going to battle. And, so, as they moved from Frankfurt and they went to railroad junctions this car was detached, you know, and it was attached to the train taking them to the front, see. And so, anyway, we got to Frankfurt in the morning. I shall never forget. It was dawn. The sun was coming up over the horizon. And I could not believe the size of the railroad station. It was immense. So we're down in the bottom of it, you know. What the heck is going to happen now? So then the guy comes and he said, "Kommen sie heir." Come with me. And so then we went and followed him. We went under the road, came up on the other side, and here we are we're standing on a street corner. And I says to myself in my simple-minded English, What the hell are we standing on the street corner here for, you know? Excuse me. So I hear clang, clang. I look and there's a street car coming, and it's all lit up. It's all lit up. Now you didn't think in war time they would light them up, but it was all lit up. It stops. My two guards and I get on. So, of course, I had a bad leg. It was in a cast. So I'm holding onto a pole like a bird, you know, looking around. See, I'm feeling sorry for myself. And I looked down here. There's German businessmen with white shirts and ties, and ladies dressed nicely. They're going to work, and I'm riding their car. So I see this lady. There's two German businessmen sitting here. Here's this lady and she's sitting next to a soldier, and she says something to my guard in German. He shrugged his shoulders yeah. He said, "Yeah, yeah." So she says, "Kommen sie." So what she did, she got that soldier to move over, and she moved as far to the wall as she could. I sat down between the two businessmen and rested my leg on that spot. And while we're riding along in the street car and she's chattering to my guard and she's winking to me, you know. So I said to myself, Now this broad, she's -- she's German. This is unusual because maybe she's from one of the occupied countries that were forced to work in Germany, you know. So then when we got to where we would get off, at the interrogation center -- it was Dulag Luft, the notorious place -- I get up holding onto that pole, and I turn around and I looked at her, and she said, "Auf Wiedersehen," and she gives me the nicest smile. To this day, I still can't figure out what her part in life was, who was she and why was she so kind to me. So I only figured that she must have been from occupied country that had to be working in Germany. But I could be wrong. She could be a German lady. So, anyway, when we got to this interrogation center all I could see was all of these barracks laid out. It was just dawn. The sun was starting to come up in daylight. So they marched me to one place. They assigned a room to me. And three times a day they would bring in something for me to eat. In the morning it's usually coffee and something, and then lunch, and then supper. And all the time I hear this boom-boom, boom-boom, boom-boom. The guards are walking back and forth, back and forth. All night, all day long you could hear that. So then they'd take me in ____ a guy says, "Haben sie." He says, "Interrogation." So I go down the hall and I walk into this office and there are two young German guys sitting there. "Hi, Frank. How you doing today?" You know, they're speaking English like I am, and they're laughing. This guy says, "Look," he says, "I bet he's not going to fly again." So, you know, I don't know what's going on here. They're going to interrogate me. I said, "Didn't you get enough information about me already?" And they said, "No. For the records we have to ask you questions." And one of the guys says, "What part of the United States are you from?" I says, "Near Pittsburgh." "Yo," he says, "Did you hear what this guy said? He's from Pittsburgh, the town that I love," he said. So, I mean, they're having a great time. So we talked for a while, but it wasn't pressure interrogation or anything. And then he says, "Okay, you go back and we'll talk to you again maybe." So one more time they talked to me, but for me -- I heard guys that were really put a lot of pressure on and threats and all, but they didn't threaten me or anything. And so then it was the day when they moved me out of there to the prison hospital, you know. So from there what they did, they put me on a gurney and drove me down the street about two, three blocks to the hospital. And that was the first hospital that I was in. Now there's an exciting story that happened there in this hospital. We were, you know, some of the guys I knew, and we're all fly boys, and they didn't interrogate much there, but they were just trying to medicate us and get us straightened out so that we could go to a prison camp. And {coughs}, excuse me, while I was there, they said, "You need one more interrogation and then you will be free to go to a hospital." So I'm laying in bed there one morning. It was a double bed. Nice furnishings in the room. Nice furnished chairs and everything. And I'm laying there in bed, and a guy is going up the hall. He's whistling. And he goes by my door and he stops. He turns around. He says, "Hey," he says, "You're a flyer like me." I said, "Yeah." And he says, "You got any cigarettes?" I said, "No." "Do you smoke?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Here." He gave me half of his pack. And I said, "What's your name?" He says, "Hub Zemke." I said, "Hub Zemke. I'm reading about you in the papers all the time, how you're shooting down German planes and all. And he said, "You know you'll be leaving here pretty soon." I said, "Yeah." I says, "I'm not looking forward to it." He said, "It will be better, you'll see." So, anyway, I said "What happened?" He says, "Well," he says, "I ran out of gas," so. But later some guys were telling me that he actually got shot out. I don't know. I'd have to read it somewhere that actually the plane was shot up. But he was put -- the Germans had such a respect for him, he was put in charge of one of the largest, biggest areas for American air men, Dulag Luft. He was in charge of that camp. So, he was very well respected. He just died not too long ago. But in America's war annals he had quite a notch. Very nice, friendly guy. And the second day he went by he says, "How are you doing?" He says, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" you know. And so he wound up being in charge of a prison camp. So.

Thomas Swope:

Did your entire crew get captured when the plane went down?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, no, no, no. They -- that's another -- I'm glad you asked that question. See, that's another story. When we parachuted out, the pilot was suffering from lack of oxygen and he was kind of like dizzy and, you know, and all this other stuff. So the co-pilot was the first one that vacated. He thought he was wounded, I guess, so he went out first. Then the top turret gunner went out. And then I'm sitting there in the hallway like, and I said, "I better get out of here, you know. If these guys are going out, something's bad happening." So, believe it or not, one of the gunners heard him, the pilot, say, "I need help." So he got up to the front, and on his way -- the bombs had not been dropped yet and there was a fire in the bomb bay. So he grabbed a fire extinguisher, put the fire out, got up to the pilot, then he more or less resuscitated him. He put him on another oxygen system and all. And together they flew the plane back to England, believe it or not. So as a result of that story is why I was interrogated or visited by Roger Freeman when I was in England because this was such a unique story. You know, that didn't happen often. But they got home except for the ones of us that jumped out. The co-pilot I guess, he never -- he was not in my camp, but I think to myself, I'll bet if there was ever a reunion of his bomb group he would be looked upon very badly because he went out and left stranded his boss, you know. But things like that happen. Lots of weird stories. They'll be writing about it for thousands of years yet all of the things that happened with bombers and fighter planes and all of that. And every once in a while they're still digging up -- not too long ago in Holland they found a fighter plane. It was -- landed into a ditch like and it got embedded. And they dug it out and the body was still in there and he got a chance to be buried in an American cemetery. But probably the oddest story is a friend of mine, who we get together once in a while with our wives for dinner, his name is Jim Froelkey (ph). He was a P-51 pilot flying out of England that escorted us to Germany, and, oh, they would go to a target on their own. And he and several other P-51s were flying up the coast of France going towards Holland flying pretty low and he got hit. So the plane couldn't fly. He had to parachute out. So he parachuted out. And attached to the harness of the plane when you were on a flight like that you had a dingy. So just before he hit the water, he pulled the drawstring and the boat inflated. So he got that thing together and he quick got into it, and he's sitting there and he's looking. It's daylight. And he says, "I know they've got to see me over there," you know. So he takes the little paddle and he's paddling and the paddle sticks. Here he's in water that's only like two feet deep. So he got to shore. They were watching him, the Dutch. And he was taken in by this Dutch family. And the Dutch, boy, they were very courageous people. They did a lot of this stuff. He was housed in a house. In this house were two German officers. This house was appropriated by the Germans and they said this -- you got to give living quarters for these two officers, so they did. Well, he was a guest at that house, and in all the time he was there the Germans never knew he was there. And the Dutch did such a fantastic job. But that's one of the exciting annals of World War II.

Thomas Swope:

Was that fire in your plane probably started by a flack hit? If that was --

Frank Furiga:

Oh, yeah, it was flack. We started getting into flack. But we'd come home from a mission, one propeller would be windmilling and there would be holes. So one day I remember -- you know, I'm glad you ask these leading questions because that opens another channel. We came back from a mission. We went to Meersberg, Germany. And Meersberg was notorious. The flack guns were some of the strongest and most powerful in the world I guess. We had holes all over the plane and we were flying a brand new B-17. And every ground crew, there was a crew chief and four other guys that worked with him. And we landed this plane and parked it, and we tumble out and we're looking. Holy Toledo. And the guy comes over, the sergeant crew chief. He says, "God damn you guys. Look what the hell you did to that plane." He says, "We just fixed it up the other day." And the pilot says, "Well, you son of a bitch, you should be out there in that sky with us and see what we're flying around through," you know. And he was giving us hell because we brought back a plane with holes. So, a lot of times you could see the patches, you know, that they made in the planes. But it was a remarkable plane. The other heavy bomber was the B24 Liberator. It didn't fly as high as we did. And we -- sometimes we went to targets where we would be dropping our bombs and I would look off to the side and I would see the B-24s and they were like 3,000 feet below us where the flack was the heaviest. But it was an unfortunate thing. It was just the nature of the plane. That was the plane that made the famous air raids at Floresti, the B-24, and they landed in Africa, you know. But we would see planes blow up parachutes in the sky and some of the German targets were heavily defended and the shells were exploding and you could hear it. It was like gravel hitting the side of the plane. Boy, when I think about it today, I don't know where I got all the courage. And we wore steel helmets. We wore steel helmets, yeah. But it was a very exciting thing at times, when it was a calm mission, but other times, boy, it could be really horrendous.

Thomas Swope:

Any targets that you really dreaded going after?

Frank Furiga:

Well, Meersberg was famous that, you know, you got to watch that baby. And like Cologne, largest city. Particularly where there was a lot of industry and oil refineries or so, those were bad cities to go to. And sometimes some of the bomb groups went to Czechoslovakia. A long mission. And there were cities over there that they got shot up pretty bad, so. And then on the way home you got to contend with fighter planes that they fired around at you, they'd land, get refueled and come back up again, see. So quite a few of the guys got shot down by fighter planes, yeah. But our P-51 was as good a match as any. Of course, we had the P-47. But myself, I saw more P-51s than P-47s. And, boy, they would come above our formations and, "Hooray, guys. We're glad you're up there," you know.

Thomas Swope:

Did you lose any crew members before that last mission that you flew?

Frank Furiga:

No.

Thomas Swope:

You were lucky until that point?

Frank Furiga:

Yeah, yeah. Didn't lose anybody in the crew. But, see, I was shifting around.

Thomas Swope:

That's true.

Frank Furiga:

See, my original crew, I was with them 10 missions and it was after that. Now, what happened -- let me see.

Thomas Swope:

How many missions did you fly, though, before you bailed out?

Frank Furiga:

I think it was 23 missions probably. The pilot, we were on a very bad mission. I think it was Hamburg, Germany. And they find that bomb run, boy, the co-pilot, and he's got his hands on the control wheel, and flack was in the sky and shards were hitting the plane and all. He got hit in a very interesting way. He had the bridge of his nose shot off. So he called to the navigator because at that time -- this is my original crew. Ray Schurer (ph) is his name. He was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So Bert says, "Ray," he says, "I've been hit. Can you come and help me?" So Ray went back and helped Bert Brown, the pilot, get out of the -- he was a Mormon, by the way -- out of his pilot's seat, and they laid him down in an area there under the pilot's area and took care of him. And that -- I went then up into his chair and flew along with Willie Bain (ph). He was a short Texan, and always talking about, "Shut up, or I'll slap the shit out of you." That was one of his famous comments. Anyway, we flew all the way to England, and Willie flew that plane back all by himself. And we were in formation with bombers, you know, and I'm being lookout for him telling where the bad things might be. But he flew that plane all the way back to England, and I really admired him. I guess most of these guys are dead now except for Ray Schurer in Pittsburgh. I think he's still alive. I used to call him once in a while, but not anymore. But I run into fellows here around Cleveland that were flying with the Eighth Air Force, you know.

Thomas Swope:

You were in the Eighth Air Force. What was your bomb group?

Frank Furiga:

384.

Thomas Swope:

And squadron?

Frank Furiga:

547th. 384th Bomb Group, 547th Squadron. And each of the planes had a logo on the tail. Ours were triangles, and in that triangle we had a P. That was our squadron's insignia, P inside of a triangle. And there were like A, M, S, you know, inside the triangle, the different ones in our type of bombers, so. And then we once had the -- see, these things are coming back to me now. Opening up the gates.

Thomas Swope:

That's good.

Frank Furiga:

We went on a flack leave. And what we did, after you had 10 missions in, they sent you somewhere to get a little bit of rest. And we went up to a city in northern England. It was a famous recreation area, and I can't think of it offhand. But I was --

Thomas Swope:

It wasn't Blackpool, was it?

Frank Furiga:

No, no, no. No, no. It would be somewhat like it. But it was a very nice English city. I just couldn't believe it. Wide thoroughfares. Beautiful tall buildings and luxurious apartment buildings and all. And we went to town to do it on every day after we had fooled around the hotel for a while, then we would jump the tram and go into town. And I did a bad thing. I started drinking then, at that age, and they were embarrassed with the way I behaved. But, you know, after you never had drank in your life before and then you have like maybe five or six drinks at a bar, then things start to happen, you know. You start to loosen up the screws a little bit. So they always talked about, "Yeah, that Frank and his drinking." But after that incident where we went to that recreation place I never did that again. But we met some charming ladies there. And I had an incident where -- I'm not sure if that was at this time when we were there or not, but this nice, young lady, I took a fondness towards her and I asked her if she would like to go to the cinema, and she agreed. And we went, and then we went to her house. Her mother and father, very nice family. And then she contacted me. They'd like to have me come over for dinner. So I went to their house when I wasn't flying and we had dinner and we sat around and talked. And we were writing to each other then, and she told me, she says, "You know," she says, when you came to our house for dinner, we'd been saving that meal for a long time for an important event." She says, "You were the event." So that's -- they saved their rations, you know. That's the way they were. But all in all I'd say that the English people I met were very charming. You could have a lot of fun with them. Some of them could be nasty, but, I mean, that's humanity. But it was a delightful experience. And while I was there, I got a chance to visit my brother, who is the paratrooper. And my brother who was a little older was in the medical corps, but he had been working as a carpenter. And so when he was inducted, they found that in his records, he was a carpenter. So when he got to this base in England, they were packing first-aid supplies for the battle fronts. So he was assigned -- he was in charge of that, making all these packing cases together. So we got together. I went to his place once where he was stationed. He came to my place. Then I went to his place again. And then another time we met for a weekend in London. Now, you know, you would think with the war is on and all, but we did have time off. So I met him in London and we did London for a weekend. And when I went down, the very next day he came to visit me. And he was so disturbed. He couldn't believe that I would no longer be there, and he was afraid that I maybe was killed or something, you know. So they kept telling him, "Oh, yeah, we saw the parachute open up," you know. So he helped put my toys together and he made it his business to see that it was put in proper containers and all, and that it was assigned the United States. And when I got back to the States, I got a shipment of my personal goods that had traveled from England by boat to the United States, and I got that back. Now, isn't that interesting? You know, the -- you wouldn't often think of that, but it happened. But that was a very exciting time of my life. As I get older now, you know, I think about it once in a while. And if there's anything going on with airplanes, I'm usually there. I belong down at Burke Lakefront Airport to the Women's -- they have a women's organization, you know.

Thomas Swope:

Museum for Women --

Frank Furiga:

Yeah. So I was a member there for a long time and I visit with them every once in a while. But when the air shows came to downtown Cleveland, like they do once in a while, I'm usually there with my camera. I have quite a few pictures. Movie cameras and all of that stuff.

Thomas Swope:

Any other vivid memories from World War II that come to find mind or do you think we covered it?

Frank Furiga:

No, I think we pretty much covered it. I mean, my association with my brothers and the things that happened in prison camp and so forth. You might have some other questions about the prison camp, but --

Thomas Swope:

Well, if there's anything else you want to describe about the life there, but I think you kind of covered it. You talked about --

Frank Furiga:

Yeah. We were allowed to write two letters a month I think it was.

Thomas Swope:

Were you able to write much at all?

Frank Furiga:

I have -- oh, yeah. I have mimeograph copies of postcards that I sent. And you were allowed one letter a month, and it was kind of a thing that folded in triplicate. But you had postal cards, and you were allowed so many postal cards a month. And, so, some of those did get back to the States, yeah.

Thomas Swope:

How long did it take your family to find out that you were a prisoner of war?

Frank Furiga:

Let me see. Well, it was a little bit of time because the government informed us, my mother, that I was a prisoner of war in Germany by telegram. But I'm trying to think now. Then she got some other letters telling her what to be expected and so forth. And then she relayed the information. I had two sisters. One was a nurse and one was working as a domestic in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, which was a nice -- very nice place. And then the boys were off to the war.

Thomas Swope:

Was she able to get any letters through to you?

Frank Furiga:

No.

Thomas Swope:

No.

Frank Furiga:

No, I never got any letters. They did write to me, but I never got the letters.

Thomas Swope:

How about the Red Cross parcels, did you get any of those?

Frank Furiga:

Yes, we did. And what they did at our hospital, when they were delivered they would take them to an area and they would open up all of the parcels instead of -- in some camps they gave the parcel directly to the prisoner. But in our hospital, which the British, they know how to do these things, they assigned an area of parcel storage and there they had all of these Red Cross parcels. And then they would open up and they would -- they call them "tins," you know, the cans. We call them "cans." They call them "tins." So they took the tins out and stored them in respective areas what would be for what meal. And then, you know, then they efficiently handled that. They knew how much to dispense every day and so forth. We had ward boys. Yeah. Two of our ward boys were South Africans, and one I remember was very distinctive. He was -- the South Africans got captured and they were -- they were encircled at Tobruk in Africa. They were very, very heavily shelled by the Germans. Now, this one guy, he was like our male nurse. I forget his name now. But you couldn't meet a more wonderful person. Now, his assistant was one that was shellshocked. And every once in a while he'd be washing dishes and he'd be wiping the dish and he'd be there 15 minutes wiping the dish. And he used to call me Junior. Everybody called me Junior because I was ____. He'd be, "Oh, Junior, Junior. How are you, Junior?" I said, "Okay," you know. And he's there, he's having to wipe the dishes and all. But he would go into a phase where his mind would get locked and all. But that Tobruk shelling I understood was one of the worst in the world. For days and days and days heavy cannon shells they lobbed into that place. War is war. War is hell. Yeah. So when it was all over with the Germans were running around, "Kreig ist kaputt. Kreig ist kaputt." The war is over for them, you know. Yeah. It sure was. That was really interesting.

Thomas Swope:

Were they shouting that when they knew the army was coming to the camp?

Frank Furiga:

After the --

Thomas Swope:

Oh, after.

Frank Furiga:

After the army liberated the city.

Thomas Swope:

Then they were pretty happy about it?

Frank Furiga:

Oh, yeah. And some of the soldiers, they got carried away. They went to the houses and they just confiscated everything they saw. I remember this one soldier. He came into our ward. He had his jacket pockets, he had cameras in there, scissors. He had one pocket that was all spools of thread with needles. You know, he just went in and he throws open the door and the American army is there, so he confiscates indicates everything he sees in sight, you know. And some of them did that. It was, unfortunately, bad, but the Germans did it to us, you know, so. But that's -- those kind of amusing things happen. And the regular army moved out that liberated us and then another army took over, and then another army after that army took over. And that was the one that was there when we were liberated. And when we were liberated we stayed in contact with -- the British had secret radios. They were more or less running the camp, the British. They were running the hospital. They had secret radios and they knew the Yanks were coming. And so they told us one night, they says, "Now, look, they're not too many kilometers away." You could hear the guns. They said, "Now, this is going to be this procedure here. This is what you'll have to do." So what we had to do in the -- down in the wine cellars, that was considered their air raid shelter. "Now, when we give you the signal, all of you are to go down in there and stay there until we give you the all clear." And that's what we did, and that's when I found my little jug here. And so when the Americans came into the camp, the guys were picking up the soldiers and kissing them and hugging them. And I remember a couple tanks drove right through the barbed wire and they would jump off, you know, nice fresh, ruddy-faced American soldiers, and here we are emaciated jerks, you know. And from that day on, we ate the best we'd ever had as prisoners because immediately they consigned to us army K-rations and we ate like kings. I'll tell you. There was so much K-rations you could have anything you wanted. And I remember when that first tank came through the lines and broke the barbed wire and drove into the courtyard, this guy jumped up on the tank and he grabbed -- the commander was in the top turret and he had the lid off, and he grabbed that guy and he was kissing him. Oh, boy what a wild time. See, so that's about it I guess.

Thomas Swope:

I think we got it.

Frank Furiga:

We had one fellow in my ward, he traded his goods with the German guard that was on the night duty, and this guy would bring him chocolate cake and things like that. And his name was Miehle, M-I-E-H-L-E. And he had favorites in the ward, and he'd go, "Joe, would you want a piece of my cake?" He never said, "Frank, would you want a piece of my cake?" Okay, I mean, have it your way, you know. But he did, he did get quite a bit of that stuff from his parcels.

Thomas Swope:

Yeah.

Frank Furiga:

Because he had food in the parcel that they didn't have on the street. You know, the canned goods were good, and the material was wonderful. We had things, like I had in my bedside drawer, I had a small can of jam. We had crackers and other little items that they didn't need in the kitchen. But the rest of it was consigned into the kitchen. And they opened up the tins, as the British call it, and then they dumped it into one large area and then that made the meal, you know. So we did pretty well I think. END OF TRACK TWO, CD ONE.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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