Greetings to Stalag Luft III family and friends. It has been a month since the conclusion of the POW Reunion in Colorado Springs. Before delving into the highlights of that event, we wanted to tell you about something of interest to our POW families. Just before the reunion, Mike was in Germany near Munich researching his father’s crash site. While there, a German man told him that he had visited the U.S. Archive in College Park, Maryland, and he found 125 boxes of Luftwaffe records from Dulag Luft. It has been believed up until now that most of the Luftwaffe records were destroyed near the end of the war, particularly the ones from the Interrogation Center at Oberursel. Marilyn and Carol Godwin made a visit to the archive and found the records. What was more stunning was that upon opening the files, which are cross-referenced by KU numbers on Missing Air Crew Reports, Marilyn found her father’s crew’s file which contained dog tags from the crew from the day they were shot down and also personal effects the Germans had confiscated. Inside were the dog tags of the crew’s flight engineer who was killed that day. Some of the confiscated items from the crew, kept exactly as they were cataloged 70 years ago, are pictured below. Looking through another box cross-referenced to Mike’s father’s crew, Marilyn & Carol found the dog tags of that crew as well, including Mike’s father’s dog tags. The Archive holds these records both in the original German and also the translated versions. We were able to see all of them. Mike, Carolyn Clark Miller, Carol, and Marilyn have all signed a letter to the Archive requesting that these personal items be released to families who are searching for them. We will update you in another newsletter when we find out more.
From Jeffers’ crew. Note brown leather “bracelet” stamped with the name Gonzales, one of the gunners on that crew. He has not seen this bracelet for 70 years and wore it whenever they flew. Other items were taken from the tail gunner the day they were shot down.
Dog tags found in Mike’s father’s crew file. Note his father’s dog tag stapled there 70 years ago.
Get Well Bob Swinehart!
We wanted to take a moment also to tell everyone that POW Bob Swinehart, who was in a car accident before the reunion, and Arnold Wright, who was hospitalized when he got home from the reunion, due to a prior condition, are both doing fine now. Bob is in a treatment center and would enjoy hearing from anyone.
His address is:
Daysprings of Miami Valley
8001 Dayton-Springfield Rd.
Fairborn OH 45324
Stalag Luft III Reunion 2014
Many thanks to all of you who emailed us regarding the reunion. We have received so many compliments from those who enjoyed their time there that we have been overwhelmed. It is gratifying to know after all the work that went into reunion planning that the result was a good one. We had quite a crowd, close to 200 considering that notice of the reunion only goes out through this newsletter. No individual invitations are sent when Mike & Marilyn plan reunions. Thank you all for your kind words. They are much appreciated. For those who could not attend, Marek has put his film of the 50th Anniversary of the Great Escape on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkOXuxlC8LM
This is part one. He will post part two soon.
We were delighted that Tom Brokaw took the time to make the video for us for the banquet. He was kind enough to answer a joint letter from Mike, Marilyn, Carolyn Miller, and Carol Godwin. Thanks to Tamara Haygood for getting the thank you card signed by reunion attendees to him as well.
A reminder regarding Behind the Wire books that many have asked about. Arnold Wright’s transcriptions are available on the A.F. Academy’s library website. Anyone wanting hard copies can contact Mike. Price will range from $15-$30 depending on which compound book is ordered.
Thanks to all of you too for your generous donations to support the museum in Zagan. We will wire money to Marek after the first of the year, as there is a law in Poland that donated money has to be used by the end of the year it is received, so it makes more sense to wire it in January for his use. The donations in the past have allowed Marek to really transform and update the museum. Anyone wishing to donate can send a check to Marilyn or Mike. Please email for our addresses.
At the reunion, we mentioned the development of our new Stalag Luft III website, which is still being created.—-more info to follow. Among other things, all prior newsletters will be posted on it.
We also welcome any reunion pictures readers took that we can put in our next newsletter. We are grateful to Ted Barris, Museum Director, Marek Lazarz, Dr. Tamara Haygood and Vietnam Veteran and POW, Guy Gruters, for their captivating presentations that enriched the reunion immensely. We also thank all of you who purchased our book at the reunion to benefit the museum. If you have a moment, please consider reviewing it on amazon.com.
Welcome to Colorado Springs!
Andrea Hatfield and Ernie Hasenclever from the German Panel
Listen to the encore: Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder:
Colorado’s Finest – Police Department arrives at hotel with 20 units including 4 K9s to salute our POWs and lead the escort.
On the road – Police halted all traffic on the on ramps until our buses passed.
AFA Classroom – Lt. Col. Nathan Watanabe and Maj. Jason McClure in the history department gave the lecture.
Kriegie humor found in the archives
The Farewell Banquet
Nine months ago, Marilyn and Mike decided it was time to recognize many people who have been devoted to the Stalag Luft III POWs and arranged for Certificates of Honor to be presented and displayed in the Honor Book in the library. They were presented to those who have shown considerable interest and/or research regarding our POWs over the years. Pictured are SLIII Museum Director from Poland, Marek Lazarz, Oral Historian, Val Burgess, Canadian author, Ted Barris, and A.F. Academy archivist, Mary Ruwell. Close up of certificate held by Ted Barris on the right, above. Filmmaker, Mike Dorsey, who created the award-winning “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald,” and spoke earlier at the reunion but had to leave early, and Ben van Drogenbroek, author and researcher, were also presented with awards, the latter unable to attend.
WE SALUTE OUR POWS WITH ROSES AND WINE
POW Irv Baum, who had to cancel at the last minute, when the earthquake damaged his home in Napa Valley, California, sent along bottles of “The Prisoner” wine from his vineyard, for the POWs to toast with. All pronounced it excellent wine. Irv’s grandson, Reggie, an AFA cadet, was in attendance. An impromptu telling of POW stories followed the toast, much to the delight of the attendees!
Until the next newsletter—best wishes from Marilyn and Mike
Marilyn Walton Mike Eberhardt
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers Son of POW Charles M. Eberhardt