Well the last post (Surfing 4 The Troops) got me inspired and thought I’d tell about my wonderful ex father-in-law – Richard Radlinger. Over the years, we had heard very little about his days in WWII until this guy came along and wanted to interview Dad. This post is about Dad’s story and the interview.
Richard Radlinger, a Park Falls, Wis. native, discusses his World War II service in the United States Army Air Corps as an engineer and his experience as a German prisoner of war. Radlinger talks of spending his summers at Fort Snelling (Minnesota) in the Citizens Military Training Camp before actually entering the service in January of 1943. Radlinger explains that he and his four brothers were all drafted into the service and, after basic training, he was sent overseas to North Africa with the 15th Air Force as an engineer flying B-17’s. Radlinger discusses his participation in the invasion of Southern France, particularly the bombing of Marseilles. In September 1943, Radlinger relates his assignment to the 2nd Bomb Group and participation in a mission to bring back POWs from Romania. He details receiving multiple injuries during a bombing mission in Bulgaria where his plane lost two of its engines, crash landed, and killed two people. Radlinger explains that during another mission his plane was bombed, he parachuted, and noticed his left leg was missing as he was coming down. Hospitalized as a German prisoner of war, he talks of the winter of 1944-1945 as being the coldest on record, watching the thousands of English and French planes on the 27th of December during the Battle of the Bulge, and that the hospital was almost hit during the bombings. Radlinger relates he was sent to Camp Minnegan where others, who were severely injured, were returned to the United States. He talks of taking the Swedish ship Gripsholm back to the States. Radlinger speaks highly of the surgery on his leg stump he received under German care, but was ordered, under threat of court martial, to have another operation once in America. The operation was unsuccessful, which led to another and yet another operation finally involving another year stay at Percy Jones Hospital in Michigan. Radlinger talks in more detail about the various types of aircraft and navigator suits, as well as some of the machinery used by the Germans.
While doing this research for this article, it’s amazing what you can find on the internet and really thought this tidbit was amazing reading as Dad was born in Germany and really must have been hard for him during the war. See him mentioned in this article……….
To read the interview with Richard Radlinger click here Transcript of an oral interview with Richard Radlinger
In 2004, the family purchased a tile at the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center and surprised him with it – you know it was just amazing to walk around with Dad and hear about all the items that he remembered when he was in the war. If you have never visited this place and ever make it to Wisconsin – this is a must see.
It was amazing to see the gear they wore, the equipment they used, and the planes back then – sure was an eye-opener for me and gave true meaning of HERO.