Veteran Salute: WWII POW recalls being freed from German camp

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – During World War WII members of the 106th Infantry Division had only been in Germany for five days when the enemy forces rolled in.

John Mock said since they were infantry all they had were their rifles, as more than 8,000 German artillery pieces blasted them.

“My ear is still ringing,” says WWII POW John Mock.

It’s easy to see why, as Mock describes what happened when that first shell hit.

“We dived into our foxhole, well I didn’t, my foot didn’t make it. A shell hit, five feet on my left. A piece of metal went clear through the side of my foot,” Mock explains.

So with only one shoe, Mock says the soldiers started walking through the snow, he says they had no choice. They were out of food and ammo.

“Achtung, that means attention in Germany. We run right square into them,” Mock adds.

They were taken as prisoners of war.

Mock said months and months went by in a camp, before they were locked inside train cars.

Not knowing who was inside, allied forces blew up the train’s engine.

“Pretty emotional day, that day,” says Mock.

Ninety-nine days after they were captured…

“Here come the 99th division, fattest GIs we’d ever seen,” he says.

He says when they figured out who they had discovered, they called for every ambulance in the country.

“We were dirty, we were filthy, we hadn’t shaved, we were walking skeletons,” Mock says.

Mock says many of the prisoners couldn’t even walk.

He weighed just 105 pounds.

“The inside of my trousers, the inside seam was white, with lice eggs, you could count all of my ribs, I didn’t have a stomach, I could take my finger and thumb about my arm,” Mock continues.

Mock said he was also wearing a torn up German overcoat.

“Finally we started speaking English, we are Americans and we’ve been in a prisoner of war camp,” he says.

Mock said the nurse then burst into tears. 

“Here she come, bucket of warm water, next time she had a brand new bar of soap, towel, wash rag, razor, a metal mirror, and a brand new pair of pajamas,” he adds.

What she brought next he still vividly remembers. 

“She had a coffee cup full of sliced peaches. You cannot believe how good that tasted,” Mock says.

The next day as Mock was taken to a hospital in France, his family would receive a telegram.

He was no longer missing in action, he’d been a prisoner and had finally been freed.

Mock said even after all these years, “it seems like at night, you live through the whole thing again.”

He said the German guards were either too old or too young to be in the Army, so they were made guards. He said they never abused the prisoners.

Mock said they were really hungry too.

He remembers Christmas when the guards started singing ‘Silent Night.’ He said the prisoners joined in. He said it sounds the same no matter what language you sing it in.

Click here to watch this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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