T/Sgt. Vincent Durante (Brooklyn,NY)

Bitterfeld is north of Leipzig, just before you get to Torgau. After we broke off from the main group, up north near Hamburg, almost 2000 of us zig zagged, back and forth down the banks of the Elbe. On April 26, we finally got caught in the pincers between the Russian and American forces and got liberated. If you figure we started out from Luft IV on Feb. 6 (1945) and went clear across Germany; that's over eighty days of hiking, then bedding down for the night by the side of the road. It's really difficult to explain to kids who've had their three square meals a day, that all we had in the morning was a cup of ersatz coffee and a scrap of bread. Our main meal might be a scoop of soup and you didn't know what was in it.

That morning we crossed the river, we just had a sense of relief that "Thank God, it's all over. We've finally made it and we're in good hands now!... No more of this Raus, Raus, Raus comming at you all the time." They bundled us off in trucks and sent us west to Halle. I guarantee you ,I wouldn't have been here today, if it wasn't for fellows like Frank Paules and Doc Nordstrom. Whether it was on that terrible forced march into Luft IV or all those days out on the road, they just kept trying to keep us all together. I remember Paules as a big commanding fellow, and you had to admire him because he was very tight lipped but strong willed. The men stuck by him. They could trust him to stand up to the Germans.