|18 year old Rifleman Edward L.Fowler,Jr.||Ed & Wilma|
|Last Name: `
|Street: 10867N1710 RD.||City & State: SWEETWATER, OKlahoma||E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Zip: 73666-6324||Phone:||Spouse: WILMA G.|
|Conflict: WW II ETO ,Normady||Service Branch: ARMY||Unit: 29 th Division , 115 th Infantry|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: 20 KM. South St Lo(Percy)Normandy France||Date Captured: 07/31/44|
|Camps Held In: 4F 12A 7A 9B, Work Camps Mostly In Poland, East Germany, Frieburg ,Dresden,Chemnitz, Dussledrof & other small places.||How Long Interned: 293 days|
|liberated / repatriated: liberated||Date Liberated: 05/20/45||Age at Capture: 19 years Old|
|Medals Received: Medals Awarded :Purple Heart cluster,Oak leaf Cluster ,Bronze Star,Presidential Citation,French Croix De Guerre ,Service Medal WWII,Prisoner War Medal,American Campaign Medal,Mid East Campaign,WWII Victory Medal,Good Conduct,Combat Infantry Badge,3 Battle Stars.|
|Military Job: Browning Automatic (BAR) RIFLEMAN||Company: Ranching & Farming,US Rural Mail Carrier|
|Occupation after War: Ranching , Rural Mail Carrier|
This Biography dedicated to the memory of all those Killed and taken Prisoners of War and MIA's to never return to their homes to see their families again .
World War II as an Eighteen Year Old Farm Boy Endured and Survived Told by: E. L. Fowler, Jr.
In the year 1924, November 17, E. L. Fowler was born to Levi and Mae Fowler near Sweetwater, Oklahoma on a farm adjoining the 100th Meridian Parallel in the Meridian Community of Roger Mills County, Oklahoma During the dust bowl and depression days. E.L. went to grade and high school at the Meridian school, graduated from high school in 1943, worked three months in California and was married to his high school sweetheart of 3 years, Wilma Perry who was working as Rosie The Riveter in California , Wilma & Ed were married in Yuma, Arizona.
The next few years would be a very different world for E.L. as he was drafted into the Armed Forces in October of 1943. He reported to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, there he was transferred to Camp Wolters, Texas near Mineral Wells. There he trained for the Infantry of the U.S. Army for six weeks. At the end of his training he was sent to Camp Mile Standis in Massachusetts, from there to the Port of embarkation at Ft. George G. Meade, where he boarded the ship “USS Wakefield”, which was a Liberty ship built during the war to transport troops overseas. The ship was capable of a speed of 30 knots, which was very fast for this time in history. We sailed without escort of any other fleet. The ship zigzagged every half minute in order to avoid any German submarine, even though we were sighted by some and managed to shake them off. We sailed near the coast of Iceland and came down from the north and docked in Liverpool. From there shipped by train to the southwest coast of England. We got all our supplies; guns, ammunition, gas mask, food rations and clothing and were then moved to Southampton Port and boarded ships. Next thing we knew we were looking at the Normandy Beach in France. The Higgins boat met the ships in the channel and we boarded the boats and landed on Normandy Beach.Each foot soldier had at least 75 Lbs back pack on them selves plus the wieght of the water that was waded through and the fire power directed at them.Was not a pretty sight !
Edward was a Browning Automatic Rifleman with the 29th Division on Omaha Beach. Once the beach was cleared they fought across the “hedgerows” of Normandy which were earthen dikes two to six feet high and as much as four feet thick, on top of which were growing hedges of trees. These hedgerows separated the individual pastures and apple orchards and made a virtual redoubt of each successive field. Not a man said a word but the tension grew with every step. German machine guns that ripped through the silence. Rifle fire cracked between the long bursts. The crumping flat crash of mortar shells came along with the dreaded 88 Artillery shells. It was bad seeing his close buddy wounded maybe fifteen minutes in combat. This was war for sure and it was either Edward or the enemy that had to survive! The days were exhausting and the nights were twice as long with counter attacks one behind the other. The rain came every day and night. Edward’s platoon was the scout platoon for the company and this meant they were to search out and find where the enemy was hiding. They encountered a lot of Germans, almost hand to hand fighting at close range.
The city of St. Lo was the objective, we were to take it in 10 days after landing on the beaches…but it was not until July 18 that we liberated the city and secured it. This was a key city to take as it was in the trade center of Normandy.A war correspondent who saw the unit capture St.Lo dubbed the 115th Infantry of which I was a member of , The Indestructible Clay Pigeons and discribed it as one of the finest fighting units in the whole Army We had sustained great losses, killed and wounded, of 2,384 men, almost three times the full strength of our battalion. Two out of every three men killed or wounded! So on to the south of St. Lo to the little village of Peircy. In Normandy 1 out of every 6 men went into emotional shock .At this time we were clear of the”hedgerows” and we had been attached to General Patton’s 3rd Armor Division. General Patton did not care for the English General Montgomery so the race was on to beat him to Paris to get the glory. The worst of this was that our Five Tanks we were supporting got too far ahead of our front lines and were knocked out,Only 50 left in our company some wounded including myself, and the German Panzer Tank Division cut us off from our troops--we were “Prisoners of War” until after end of the war.
As a “Prisoner of War” we were moved to East Germany and into Poland. There we dug air raid shelters and water lines with picks and shovels. Then when the snow began to fly it was to the railroads to shovel snow off the railroad tracks. This was the worst winter in 40 years as far as being cold and the depth of the snow. Our men’s clothing had begun to wear thin and the soles of our shoes were worn out. Many of us had frost bite , we lived on less than 700 calories a day of watery soup ,we ate it slowly savoring each bite so as to make it last longer, making it seem more than it actually was.We were infested with lice ,they fed on every part of the body , Dysentery was the order of the day along with sores breaking out on the feet and legs.When imprisonment accures and the terrible scenes around you,you put your mind into another world , you design,you build,make plans,in your mind, trying to keep it as far removed from the circumstances around you, trying to forget the surroundings or the enviroment you are in. And above all you talk to God a lot ! It was not a surprize that so many died but it was puzzling that so many survived the ordeal!
As the war wound down in Europe we had been marched into Czechoslovakia. There we were liberated by the Russian Army,Ater the war was officially over, our POW's were still dodging bullets and bombs as result of pockets of SS Troopers still holding out in pockets ,most Russians who Liberated us were ruthless ,drunken,spraying bullets ,rapeing ,and looting ,we were scared for our lives .We stayed in a vacated Nazi's apartmentt till time for us to get on top of box cars and ride out to the American lines .We were near Dresden (Europe's most beatiful City) where the fire bombing of this city accured and as many people were killed there as in the Atom Bomb in Japan, and after a long wait flown to a hospital(Camp Lucky Strike) near La Harve, France and eventually home…good old home. A long way for teen age farm boy from western Oklahoma who had never been very far, and now was matured into a man. Edward had missed his teenage years, as he was 18 years old when He went to war for his country .He and Wilma raised 5 children ,Charolotte, Vikki, Kathy,Doug,and Jill.And since has enjoyed each day of FREEDOM.Hoping that future generation will always cheeish freedom that was won for them.May God always be with us!
|My Message to Future Generations:
We must never forget that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who owns life.He is the one who created , and He is the one who sustains, and He is the one that is coming again , and He owns our lives ,and we must recognize His ownership.There is an old saying ,that the only thing required for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing , To paraphrase another verity , if you do not stand against evil , you stand for it;you are either with Him , or you are against Him.He must be first in our lives, and I believe second will come our families. It is my firm belief,that family had a lot to my coming back to relate to you this story, as I know there were a lot of prayers send to God by my Wife, Parents, and Family. I believe that family is our strength.It is family that provides the unwavering love and support of all of us. And it is the family that makes it possible to live up to our motto,We exist to help those who cannot help themselves As infantrymen, one of the things we came to believe was that no matter where you served or what outfit you were in , the front was always the same, savage,dirty,frightening , horrible hell.Those who survived could never forget it !It is my firm belief that no single group of men in our Nation's long history has contibuted more to the preservation of liberty than the American combat soldiers,along with the Navy and Airforce.When I think of what has been forgotten about WWll ,and what will be forgotten in the years to come, I realize the importance of accurately documenting how the US Army fought the war and how its soldiers coped with the stress of combat.And we must sort facts from fiction while some one is still here to tell the story ,while we are of sound mind ,of how it all happened .Only in this way can our Great-Grand children profit from the knowledge of a nation's past trials and tribulations.I hope I have enlightened you in a small way ,and with my limitation of words. If you as a reader glean nothing else from my story remember, freedom is not free! People who do only what is required of them are in a sense slaves, those who do more are free ,never forget those who gave of their lives that others may live,our soldiers who were left in Europe told us to tell you, when we went home,For your tomorrow's, We gave Our today, They paid the supreme sacrifice with their blood!
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