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Follies of a Navy Chaplain

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Tanks for the Memories

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They were all young kids

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Love Company

A Mile in Their Shoes

A Mile in Their Shoes

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Nine Lives

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©2014, Aaron Elson


Look, Up in the Sky...

Eugene Sand

©2014, Aaron Elson

    Eugene Sand, of Syracuse, Nebraska, was the driver of a tank recovery unit in the 712th Tank Battalion.

    You know, as long as you were missed by fire you usually didnít know how far you were missed. One of the guys on the two-ton wrecker was named Doc Bellows, and he always carried a Thompson submachine gun, and he didnít let a speck of dust get on it. And we were parked for the night on an old destroyed German air base. There were some hangars along the end that were all destroyed by our fighter planes, and the runway was out in front. We parked close along the front of one of the hangars, and Doc was cleaning his Thompson submachine gun. I said, "Well, Doc, youíve got your cleaning equipment out, Iíll just clean a little of the dust out of my old gun. And we were standing there, just like you and I are, that close together, and we had the stuff laying on the fender of one of those big wreckers, and were cleaning our guns. And all at once we hear this roar. And here comes the first jet airplane I had ever seen in my life. We had heard of them, but we never saw them before. Our old fighter planes probably flew about 350 miles an hour, and this thing was coming in there probably at 700. And smoking like a coal locomotive. We were so amazed at the speed of that thing, we just turned and watched it. And it went past, made a full circle, and came back and fired. Dumb as we were, we stood there. And when that plane fired, one shell went between us and hit the side of the wrecker and fell down right by the fender, between the fender and the hood.

    I picked it up and it was still hot, and I turned just a little bit, and I said, "My nameís not on it, Doc, it must be yours," so I handed it to him.

    We should have went for cover when we saw the plane coming, but we were so fascinated with seeing that first jet plane we had ever seen, and the speed that thing was going, we wanted to watch it. And it only took him a split second to make that circle and come in and fire. As a matter of fact, the bullets came in before the sound did.

    But that one, we knew how far it missed us.