Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Memorial Day Service, Monday, May 30th, 2011

Photo by Debby Preiser.

My husband John and I have occasionally had the honor of singing in Oak Park’s Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day services which are always held in Scoville Park. The focal point and “stage” for these events is always the “Peace Triumphant” sculpture that was built to honor the 2,446 Oak Park and River Forest citizens who participated in “The Great War.” Dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1925, the memorial recently underwent a refurbishing and was re-dedicated in a ceremony last November.

On this past Memorial Day, we were honored to sing beside the war memorial for the first time since its refurbishing and we had a wonderful time, and not just because the statutes had been restored to their former bronzed glory. Something special happened during this service, something so momentous and moving that I feel compelled to attempt to explain the inexplicable.

It might have something to do with Ginny Cassin, who opened the ceremonies. Ginny is an octogenarian who has been significantly involved with Oak Park’s government and the local Ernest Hemingway Foundation for decades. She’s the type of person who honestly esteems everyone she meets and, in some magical way, when she opens any ceremony, she immediately imbues it with a higher amount of value than it would have had otherwise.

Or perhaps it was Redd Griffin’s speech, which, as usual, was erudite and substantive. This time, during his history of Memorial Day (initially called Decoration Day, utilized to “decorate” the graves of those lost in the Civil War) he used the street running in front of the park – Lake Street – to make a connection with the 151st anniversary of Lincoln’s 1860 Republican nomination, which took place a few miles directly east from where we were standing. He also movingly and clearly stated the difference between a twisted fascination for war and an admiration for those willing to face it.

Perhaps the event was extra meaningful in part because of the songs we were asked to sing. John and I are already familiar with the spontaneous audience participation that tends to accompany a performance of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (when we perform our “Songs of the Civil War” program). This audience had pre-printed words in front of them but still, I always wonder what it is about this song that is so particularly moving. Perhaps it’s what John always says in his intro: after the Civil War was over, Americans wanted to believe that the immense cost had served some higher purpose; that something new had been born from a conflict which had taken so many lives. While singing “Battle Hymn” one can nearly catch a glimpse of that higher purpose.

I love singing the national anthem, always have, probably always will, so was thrilled to have another opportunity to do so at the Memorial Service on Monday, feeling, as I always do, nearly akin to Paul Henreid in Rick’s CafĂ©, leading a group of French patriots in a passionate rendition of their forbidden national song. Alright, that’s a little over the top, but it comes close, cinematically-speaking, to describing the thrill I feel whenever I lead the singing for “The Star Spangled Banner.” While doing so I can nearly see the poet Francis Scott Key yearning for a glimpse of Old Glory and all that it represents: a near-miraculous and idealistic attempt to create a new nation, which ended up racking up a long list of wrongs – because human beings tend to be flawed – but also became a beacon of light and hope to oppressed people around the world. When I get to the part where the singer asks if the banner yet waves, I really mean it. If it does continue – and the reason it currently waves – is because of the vets who have been willing to fight for it.

The invocation given by Pastor Schreiner was the best Memorial Day prayer I’ve ever heard, one that pointedly focused on the reason for the day: the sacrifices that young men and women have made for this country. She not only mentioned those who had lost their lives in direct conflict with the enemy but also vets who have been permanently damaged by their war experiences, including those who took their own lives as a result. Words rarely suffice to fully articulate the loss of a single life but she came very close and in a very short amount of time.

Perhaps the show of hands made this Memorial Day service particularly moving. It hadn’t been entirely clear how many vets were present until Oak Park president David Pope asked them to identify themselves and the conflict they’d been part of. As far as I could hear, veterans from Viet Nam, Korea, and WWII were all present and from our vantage point at the base of the memorial, John and I could see them all.

One of them – a Viet Nam vet, I think – came up to us afterwards and told us this had been his favorite among many Memorial Day services because of our singing, so much so that he was sure there was a special place in heaven for us. I couldn’t help thinking the same thing about him. Thank you, veterans of the United States.

The history of Memorial Day.

An article from December, 1925, regarding the original “Peace Triumphant” memorial.

Ginny Cassin, speaking at the rededication ceremony of the “Peace Triumphant” memorial, November, 2010.

Redd Griffin, speaking at the rededication ceremony of the “Peace Triumphant” memorial, November, 2010.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: Home!

John and Ruth Teune on their wedding day, October 21, 1944.

The POW Diary of John Teune: Last Days in Europe

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

September 3, 1944

Received partial pay of 100 bucks and purchased a few things rom the PX. I read a little, played ping pong and basketball. Went to cemetery to check up on personal effects which were shipped home August 24. Attended chapel service at night and wrote letter to folks.

Monday, September 4, 1944

Briefed and filled out forms and then hitch-hiked to the Squadron. Saw Capt. Sagert, Snee, etc. The boys left this morning. Did quite a bit of talking in the Club.

September 5, 1944

This morning we began to start straightening out our pay and other records. Also checked up on what was sent home of our personal effects. Found my cap and APR of pinks in supply. Also found most of my radio, received B-4 bag and field jacket from supply. John Ter Matt surprised me with his appearance. In MPS, I found out that my brother, Pete, is in India. Received other news. Received Banner of July 7 and learned that John Van Zwieten died in action on May 27. Went to Group tonight, saw Dan Boone. Had some good ice cream. Played ping pong.

September 6, 1944

Learned that a plane was leaving for Rome, so immediately prepared to go. Left here at 9 a.m. with MacDonnell and Hollerback. Arrived at 11:15, rode in truck to town. Had a bite to eat and then went looking for some gifts for home. From 2:1 to 5 p.m. we went on a Red Cross tour of Rome. Visited the catacomb of San Sebastian where Peter and Paul were supposed to have been buried until their bones were removed to cathedrals. St. Paul's Cathedral is very beautiful and massive, plenty of gold. Visited Pantheon. Rom is very impressive, very little damage, modern and clean. War seems very remote. Returned home at 7 p.m.

September 7, 1944.

Received our pay for May in Cerignola. Went to GP for ice cream and a shower. Saw a show at night.

John left Italy on September 13, 1944, and returned to the United States on September 26, 1944.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: Final News of Fellow Pilots, a USO Show, and Letters Home

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

September 2, 1944

Spent several hours in library before noon. Signed payroll, met McKenna. Report had come back to Squadron that Dyer and Red were P.O.W. Most all the original 1st Pilots went home. Capt. Hyde went down with Goodal over Austria. Sagert and crew put in 49 missions and bailed out over Yugoslavia, but got back O.K. Sagert flew another mission to get his Captaincy. Almost all the 1st Pilots became Captains before going home. Those that went home were: Sagert, Manlove, Johnson, Ensign, Bouganer, Capps, Guttina, Joyce, Randall. Richards is Operations Officer, Side Brooks went down, P.F. Johnson was killed at field when he crashed with bombs and one engine on fire. In the afternoon saw a good USO show and washed some clothes. At night, a movie, wrote Ruth and the Judge.

The POW Diary of John Teune: G.I. Chow, Magazines, and a Movie

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

September 1, 1944

Received a convelescent bag which contained all the things needed immediately. Felt so good to have G.I. chow again, also Cokes and candy. Sent home a radiogram, spent several hours at the library looking at late magazines. Boys from Timus were listed in Honor Role in the Air Force. Saw K225 movie at night. Talked to "Rock" several hours before hitting the sack.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: August 30, 1944, Part Three: Evacuation!

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 30, 1944 (Part Three)

Just heard we were to be evacuated the next morning by B-17's. Too fantastic to believe but it made us extremely happy. It was confirmed at 7 o'clock. We were put in groups of twenty and told we were to leave in the morning. After hours of talking we slept some under the stars. Those who were to be repatriated were still in the hospital and didn't go along. We arose at 4:30 a.m. , packed a small bundle adn the inefficient Romanians had buses waiting for us and drove us to the Municipal Airport which had no runways. We heard that the planes were to come at 10 a.m. if they did come. We roamed about, looking at HE 111's, ME 109's, Romanian IAR's and other types of planes. The boys went collecting souvenirs, guns, caps, wings, etc. for anything and all they possessed and the Romanians cleaned up. The Romanians also stole many of our belongings.

At 8 a.m. a P-51 came in and landed. The B-17's were coming at 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00 in groups of 12 which meant accomodations for only 740, so 450 enlisted men remained. At 10:00 we saw the escourts, about 25 P-51's, then the B-17's. What a glorious feeling -- what a show! They landed and the first 11 groups of 20 climbed on board and took off shortly. One B-17 had a flat and remained on the field. P-51's put on quite a show. At 11:00, 12 more flew in with their escorts, P-38's and P-51's. I was in Group 19 and took off with this group. Almost unbeliveable -- going home. The trip to Bari, Italy, was uneventful although I heard someone saw flak and that some enemy fighters were shot down by the escorts. We landed at Bari and then realized how efficient our army is. After posing for some cameramen and a few minute speeches by the Major and the Captain, we were driven in escort trucks to the hospital and there we received refreshments, filled out forms for a cablegram and then went to a replacement center or stay at the hospital if treatment was necessary. At the Center, long lines were everywhere. We threw our clothes in a pile which were covered with insect powder. Our valuables and clothing which we intended to keep were tagged and deloused. Then a bath in water and powder and we received a complete set of clothes, were assigned to a tent, ate a good meal, saw a movie and then to a clean sack.

The POW Diary of John Teune: August 30, Part Two: What Happened During the Crash of the 'Deuces Wild'

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 30, 1944 (Part Two)

After our arrival at camp, we were assigned a barracks and unpacked our bundles. We washed off some dust and then looked up Hal and Glen (they were the bombardier and navigator on Deuces Wild). We were very happy to see each other. They had been poorly treated and lost weight. When our plane was hit, they said it broke in two and they were thrown about in the nose of the plane as it spun down. While Glen was pinned for a moment, he saw his chute and grabbed it in his arms and then was thrown thru the astro hatch. When he came to, he fastened on his chute and pulled the cord and almost immediately hit the ground. Hal (Harold Dyer, bombardier), was thrown near the nose wheel door which was jarred open, but could get only one leg out. Then suddenly he was thrown out and poulled open his chute just in time to hit the ground safetly. Both were only slightly bruised and went to the camp in Bucharest. We talked for some time. I met Lehner and his crew who bailed out the same day after passing the target. Only the photographer was lost. Also met Pete and Jack.

The POW Diary of John Teune: August 30, 1944 Part One: The Scars of Battle

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 30, 1944

Ready to leave at 7 a.m. but then the Romanians had tire trouble and we finallly left at 9:30 Bucharest is 110 kilometers from Pietrosita and gravel road most of the way. We stopped several times along the route; many refugees were returning. The country became flat and hot, many praries, oil wells and small refineries which had been bombed. Saw many German mechanized vehicles. Coming closer to Bucharest we saw the scars of battle and our bombing. Entering the city from the north we saw what our bombing had done, also what the Germans had one in two days which was supposed to be more destructive than ours in all our raids. Houses were level, laid flat, very much deserted. To the south the damage was much less. We saw workers digging in the ruins which the Germans had caused just two days before. Bucharest is a more modern city than Hadnes but is much older and dirtier than our cities.

We went completely through the city until we were again in the country and then entered our camp. It was a great moment when we saw our flag flying. The prisoners here had arrived two days previous. They had gone thru all the bombings of our raids and also the German raids. Many down bombs hit all about them, but miraculously no one was killed. The British gave them the worst scares. They had moved outside the city while the Germans were still present and just in time, too, for the Germans had bombed one of the buildings they just vacated. Some boys stayed in town and two were killed by a German machine gun and one by bombing.

The POW Diary of John Teune: August 29, 1944

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 29, 1944

Up at 6:30 and made our own oatmeal and ate it in the cafe. The Romanians say they use that oatmeal for the horses. Listened to news. Took a walk downstream to get away from the stench and the dust. Returned to have dinner, later had ice cream and pastry. People are returning to Bucharest. We may leave soon. Noted today the many big wild-looking dogs roaming about, running in packs over the plains. Also noted the way cattle and ducks run around loose in the streets without identification. Slept some this noon, when the bugs are also asleep. Heard tonight that we are to leave for Bucharest tomorrow at 7 a.m. Major came in from Bucharest with the news. Bed at 10:30.

POW Diary of John Teune: August 28, 1944

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

Monday, August 28, 1944

Up at 8 a.m. Miserable sleep on the floor. Had breakfast and went for a walk. Left this filthy town and walked to another. Saw an old water wheel in operation. many captured Germans going by on way to Bucharest. Stopped and ate. Never got near our destination, the sanitarium. Walked back, showered and listened to the radio. Ate supper, drank wine and went to bed. Things are not clear to allow us to go to Bucharest.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

POW Diary of John Teune: New Headquarters, German Stukas, and Ice Cream

The Teune brothers wearing their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

Sunday, August 27, 1944

Sorensen awakes us at 6:30. Slept well. We couldn't have breakfast until late in the morning so we walked to the hills and ate a melon. On our return we had breakfast consisting of eggs, bread, coffee and pears. After a walk, we waited in a theatre for the Captain who wanted to attack with us. He divided us into platoons and we were given German rifles which were kept in the theatre which was to be our head-quarters. We had a little bread and salami and some fruit at 1 p.m. Ate a good meal at 2:30. Heard artillery in the distance probably around Ploesti, about 50 kilometers distance. Heard that yesterday's 500 planes bombed the German-held airfields instead of Bucharest. Stukas (German dive bombers) were bombing Bucharest which was badly damaged. German prisoners are coming through town. Had ice cream and cake this afternoon! The boys are paying for all my meals. A sort-of dance was held this afternoon. Bed at 11:15.

The POW Diary of John Teune: Fleas and German Prisoners

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 26, 1944

Rather poor sleep -- fleas and bugs rather bad. Up about 7 a.m. had breakfast of eggs, bread and melon at restaurant. Learned that our baggage arrived from Timisul de Nos although some was missing, also that the German prisoners were now occupying our old camp, guarded by some Russians [Yikes! I'll bet THEY were having a good time!]. Our Russian orderlies are said to be in a village nearby. We took a walk out of the village. On our return we met two captured Germans, clean looking boys. Ernie told us he had spoken to them and they asked how prisoner life was and about the Red Cross; he said they were nice fellows. Listened to BBC news, then the power was cut off. The Germans seemed to have caputured or destroyed the power plant. We ate a dinner of soup and hamburgers and beer. We had our pants pressed by the maid of the house. We then went to the most modern bulding in town and took a hot shower after which I got a haircut and shave. Prices already are soaring. We then went out and purchased bread, salami, candy and melons for our supper. Food is getting a little scarce. The Red Cross provided cigarettes, etc., which we sold for a good price, also traded items.

The Englishmen, Collins and Huntley, arrived from camp after a trip from Slabisea where they were sent for an attempted escape. Some Russians and a few of our dogs came long. Played some Bridge, went to bed at 10:15. Smith slept on the floor. We threw some insect powder over the bed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: Staying in the Romanian Village: The Germans are Near

The Teune brothers, all in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

August 25, 1944

Awoke this morning when the people occuyping these rooms came in to listen to the radio; we evidently were sleeping in their living room. Right here there do not seem to be any distinct homes -- just one home built on another, small and old. The man with whom we are living with has something to do with the church. He has two small children. In one corner of the room there is a structure which resembles an altar: that may be, but it is a stove also. There are several pictures of Jesus on the walls, also a picture of his Lieutenant brother and four of his medals. The furniture is old and the bed small for two. There is an electric light but a kerosene lamp is used because of no blackout curtains. Rugs are hung on the wall. These people did not know of our coming and did not know what our purpose was. They are very friendly and hospitable. There seems to be no sewage system. We wash in a pan and throw the waste in the wide dead end walk. After washing and hanging out our web clothes we walked into the main street and entered a small crude restaurant and had eggs.

We then took a walk with the others of our small party -- Foster, Britt, and Smith, who roomed with me. The mud street is covered with dung and one-third of the people walk bare-footed. The buildings, though clean and neat both in and out, are small and old. Everything is backward except the American cars that pass. We seemed to be looked upon with admiration and the people are very friendly -- we are their friends now. We can see the hills aorund us and especially to the north; also a huge new modern sanitarium. We had quite a walk and even met three Germans in a staff car who gave us nothing but a hard look. We ended up on another restaurant and had a fine chicken dinner.

We heard many rumors of Sukas (dive bombers) bombing and artillery shelling Bucharest and Ploesti. We were told by the Captain to remain off the street as much as possible because the Jerry (Germans) might pull thru this noon. I wrote some, had a shoe shine and purchased some fruit which is plentiful. Many of the boys were out wolfing and the girls appear well-dressed. We then heard the news that Romania declared war on Germany. We walk about some more and came across an ancient dilapidated bowling alley. We saw a few refugees pull through. At 7 p.m. we were eating a piece of liver when we were told to clear the streets at 8 p.m. -- fighting was going on 20 miles away. We returned to our room and I rolled up my pack and prepared to leave at any moment.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The POW Diary John Teune: The Germans are Coming

John Teune, second from right, with his brothers, all dressed in their Army Air Corps uniforms.

August 24, 1944

I had been asleep a few hours when Hoop woke us up and told us Romania capitulated. It was hard to believe, but it was confirmed. The guards were doubled in anticipation of an attack from the Germans. Everyone was up and around being very happy, excited, and unexplainable. We immediately packed and prepared to go, anticipating a German attack, but we got back again at 3 a.m. and tried to sleep. We repacked in the morning. I received some food from the boys which they had saved for this purpose from the Red Cross parcels. The admiral and the Baron left early to go to Sinaia and promised to get some information and phone us. We were in the dark as to what to do and where to go. We ate a full meal at noon, and then some Russians pulled out. We gave the Russians and Romanians plenty of food, cigarettes and clothing. We planned to go into the woods in small groups if the Germans attacked. Foster, Britt and Smith were going together. We received an official note to show the peasants in the hills who might not know of the change and secure help from them. We then heard from the Admiral in Sinaia who said trucks were coming to take us to another location away from the road and railroad where we were now located. We waited and then an alarm -- airplanes were coming. Not likely though because it was raining heavily. Then we were told the Germans were coming, so off to the hills, but not too far. An hour or so later we returned and waited. Then the trucks arrived, open junks. We piled in and sat on the floor in the rain for 45 minutes. We then headed for Sinaia. We had several blankets which we put over us. I had a civilian overcoat and a leather jacket. We rolled and slid around the hairpin curves and by now the blankets were soaked and our fannys plenty sore. We stopped several times due to road blocks and we passed many German vehicles going North. Eventually we passed through Sinaia and took a secondary road which was nothing but a gavel and mud road. We waited here at Petrosita, 50 kilometers N.E. of Ploesti. We were taken to a home, very clean, and with little delay, book off our wet clothes and went to bed. The floor slept fairly well in spite of many bugs.

The POW Diary of John Teune: Nothing out of the Ordinary

John Teune, second from right, with his brothers, all in their Army Air Corps uniforms.

August 23, 1944

Last night there was considerable rifle fire. Reasons given were partisans and an enlisted man escape. Nothing out of the ordinary. Today's event: a Romanian officer beat a Romanian soldier which I am told is the practice in this army.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: At the Prison Camp

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

July 15, 1944

We were taken from the hospital without notice and we were on our way to Brasov. We didn't have time to say goodbye to all our friends. John and Yappy felt bad about our departing and many of our friends were sorry to see us leave. I took along some of John's clothes, the pants I received from Miss DuQue, and socks and shirts which we received from the royal family. We rode to Brasov in a 1940 Ford Delivery truck, arriving at 5 P.M. and checked in. I was assigned to room with Capt. Ferguson and Major Yaeger. We had a fair ride thru some very nice country, a stream runs nearby. The buildling was used as a rest hotel. The enlisted men are in another building nearby. Russian prisoners prepare and serve our food, clean our rooms, and make the beds. We sleep on mattresses on sheets. The food is good for a prison camp. Time is taken up by reading, walking, card playing, bull sessions, playing volley ball and a little basketball. A wire volley ball net was constructed because of the violent hard fought games which are, according to the rules, "off the beaten path." Several tunnels have been dug; however, they were discovered by the Romanian guards. The last attempt by the officers was let out by a Russian. A tunnel dug by the enlisted man caved in after heavy rains.

The boys usually had plenty of money from selling some of the cigarettes sent from home for 2000-2500 Lei a package. With this money, things such as jewelry, clothing, eggs, pastries, liquor, butter, etc. were purchased thru the barber and the guards. We also purchased things by credit, our pay, such as toilet articles, sugar, etc. We made fudge and cake when we had the ingredients.

In camp were two Englishmen interms, an Admiral doorman and a Baron Van Lynden who were Dutch. All had escaped from Germany. All but the Admiral played volleyball. The Admiral was a help to us. We also had an RAF officer and a Serb Captain. In the enlisted men's camp were other Serbs and Russians, also an English sergeant who was captured at Dunkirk and escaped Germany. He had 13 escapes to his credit. The Russians are treated badly. Our boys have been beaten on several attempted escapes. The weather during July was poor but improved during August and I let the sun put a good tan on me. I exercised daily trying to restore my leg to normal and also to add weight. We had parallel bars to work on. I managed to reach 33 push ups.

On Sundays, some boys went to the Catholic Church 100 yards away, and every other Sunday I attended a Protestant service led by a good English speaking Romanian of German ancestry.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: July 5, 1944. Recuperation, Dr. Petrescu, and the Iron Curtain

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

July 5, 1944

I began to get around on crutches and I exercised my arms and shoulders. I was getting thin and needed the exercise. Jacob Koppes was now living with us and occasionally several of his friends visited us. I read several books including "The Blue Danube," "Inside Asia," and "Inside Europe." I played Rummy with Katie, John, and Carmen many times. Dr. Petrescu came in regularly to change the bandages and to talk with us. I was treated very well at Spital Schuller.

When I recuperated and was ready to be dismissed from the hospital, I said goodbye to Dr. Petrescu and thanked him for the car that was extended to me. I asked, "Is there something I can do for you?" "Yes," he replied. "Send me the National Geographic magazine." After arriving home and settling down to civilian life, I remembered his request, but I was concerned that in some way I might expose him unfavorably by sending something from America. Some time later there was a name for that fear: it was called the "Iron Curtain." Years later, I found out that Dr. Petrescu had been sentenced to 10 years at hard labor in Siberia because he was pro-American and helped American servicemen. It was reported that he would sandpaper the tips of his fingers to keep them sensitive to touch and free from calluses due to heavy labor. Dr. Petrescu died in Siberia.

The POW Diary of John Teune: The Crew is Dead

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

I received a visit from the soldier who carried me when I first landed. He was injured in a car collision. He gave me a gift of cheese. Also received a visit from the medical doctor and the officer who took me from the Germans. He promised me a picture which he took as I lay on the field. I was told several times that the others on the crew were killed. Three came down in parachutes close to me but were dead when they reached the ground. My conscience bothered me because I knew I had not given an alarm for Bail Out although I realize now it would have been of no value if I had run the bell even had I time to do so. I feel bad about the boys and can't believe they are dead. We had several more raids and I saw the bombers come over and through heavy flak. Not so good on the receiving end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

POW Diary of John Teune: Raids on Ploesti/Visitors

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

I experienced several raids on Ploesti. It brought to my mind a scene from a mission to Austria. We were on our way home and German fighters were shooting at our bombers, our guys floating in parachutes, B-24's smoking and trying to get hom with 2 of the 4 engines out and two propellers feathered. It was so bizarre . . . so awful, I couldn't believe it was happening in this world. The anti-aircraft guns were in the woods and these made a terrific noise. Ploesti was only five miles away. Pieces of flak fell all about. Most of the hospital personnel were in holes dug in the ground. We could hear the howling props of several stricken bombers. The Romanian people received plenty of notice of an air raid and they headed out to the country. Ploesti is in shambles.

We had visitors at least once a week. Miss DuQue, a Belgian girl, visited us and always brought some Vermouth, berries, eggs, etc. She always came with a relative, a cute chubby Dutch girl, Myram and her brother Joost. She was 18 and he was 21. We had many other visitors whose names I have forgotten. There were also pleasant Red Cross workers bringing cigarettes and other gifts. Suddenly, on or about July 1 (1944), Ed Lyman and John Mariolos were taken to Bucharest. Their friends at the hospital were sorry to see their departure and a few had tears in their eyes.

The POW Diary of John Teune: At the Hospital with the Other American Pilots

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

We were treated good in the hospital. The wound pains were bad, but we had new dressing each morning for 14 days. I received shots to sleep the first few nights. The food was not so good. Ed, who had a cut on the leg was up and around. Mariolos was OK. John Palm got around with a wooden leg and Williams' burns were almost healed. We stayed up late at night and got up late in the morning. We usually had eggs which were friend with spuds about four mornings a week. The eggs were purchased by Palm or were gifts from some Romanian friends. We listened to John's radio, a gift from an American girl who was a Romanian citizen. Mary Metree worked for Romano Americano Refinery. She baked delicious pies for us, butterscotch cream, also brought other foodstuff and sometimes some good wine. Sometimes we didn't trust the drinking water. I couldn't leave the bed and what a miserable time I had, enemas and what not. About May 20 (1944), I received 5 new stitches, and from then on until the wound was closed enough, only adhesive tape was used. Taunty Katie Vogel, a good old nurse, was very helpful; she was German and we had a few discussions.

POW Diary of John Teune: Arrival at the Hospital

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

We then took what seemed to be an endless trip to the other hospital. I was in bad pain as the truck rocked over the bumpy roads. I arrived at the hospital and what a relief I had when I saw the lodge-like buildings surrounded by lawns and flowers. The grounds were in the midst of a woods. I was rolled in and before I went into the operating room, I bade goodbye to the soldier who first carried me who now had tried to make me comfortable on that truck. I received a shot of morphine and Dr. Petrescu cleaned my wound still further and replaced two stitches which the military had sown in. I was surprised and pleased when one of the men present spoke to me in good English -- he was Yoppey Koppes, a medical student. I was placed in a room with two other Americans: Ed Lyman, from Breeze Point, Vienna, Virginia, and John Williams, from Dwight or Pontiac, Illinois. Both were fighter pilots and came down about two weeks before not due to enemy action. I also met Lt. John Palm, a pilot from El Paso, Texas, downed on the low level attack of August 30, 1943 and Lt. John Mariolos, a navigator from Lowell, Mass. He was shot down April 5th, just got out the nose wheel door before the plane blew up.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: The Operating Table, The German, and the Gawking Kids.

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

A few hours later I was placed on an operating table. Before I was given ether I wanted to know what was up. Being assured of no amputation I passed out from the ether while counting. I awoke counting and was placed in a bed. I had some wine, smoked a cigarette and talked some. A German who fought at Stalingrad, and now in an anti-aircraft battery, came in and tried to converse. He mentioned the low level attack in which he seemed to have a lot of fun. This attack happened on August 30, 1943, the day I graduated from flight training. He had also shot down a British bomber earlier. I slept little the remainder of the night. I was in a room with the medics -- one was usually near me all night. Next morning I vomited a little. I talked continuously with those who knew English. The doctor showed me some souvenirs of Allied planes, etc. The men who first found me came in to say Hello. One officer spoke excellent English, another carried two good cameras which I examined. Later he took a few shots as I was carried to another truck. I was then told I was being moved to another hospital. I put the doctor's note in my sleeve and was carried out on a stretcher. Everyone, including the little kids looked on, and me with only the top of my electrically heated flying suit on. Well . . . I wasn't in the mood to be embarrassed.

The POW Diary of John Teune: Initial First Aid

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

Of the bombardment I remember little. I must have been unconscious several times because of the pain. I remember crawling on my stomach to a position which would put my legs higher than my head to help prevent shock. I had been promised a doctor in 20 minutes. After an unknown period of time, two Romanian soldiers picked me up to carry me to a truck. I was conscious only part of the time and it didn't seem to take long although I was told later I was carried three miles. I was placed on an old truck together with other soldiers, black bread and other miscellaneous things. It was very bumpy and I hurt terribly. We stopped in several villages where the civilians came out to gaze at me and asked if I was an American. I was taken to, I believe, a First Aid station. They did nothing but cut off every bit of clothing from my waist down. I lost my boots coming out of the plane. Again, I was placed in a truck and we rode past one of the refineries and the bombs were still going off. We ended up at a military hospital, just a large shack, although surrounded by large brick buildings. I was laid in a bed and a blanket was thrown over me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The POW Diary of John Teune: Crash Over Romania, Part Three of Three

The Teune brothers in their Army Air Corps uniforms. John is second from right.

Soon the ground loomed up. The closer to earth I fell, the faster it seemed to meet me, too fast for safety. I hit, and because of ground wind which drifted me, I rolled. The people who awaited me jumped the parachute and took it off after a little direction. I was in severe pain and thought someone was trying to give me first aid but instead my watch was stolen. I thought its removal was necessary but when they attempted to take my ring I knew better. From what I learned later from the Romanians who helped me, German soldiers got to me first and took the parachute and the watch. Romanian soldiers were unarmed and could not stop them. A Romanian officer came and supposedly took me from the Germans. A few minutes later I saw a wing and part of the fuselage of a plane come down several yards away. Water was brought to me by some peasants who I found out like watches very much. I was offered cigarettes and asked if I had any weapons such as the Romanian officer brandished all this while. I don't know how long I lay there in the field which was near the village of Stresnik.