Born In Zacatecas Mexico on April 8, 1920 Albert Velasquez came to Marion In 1936. He was a supervisor in the tool and die department at Fisher Body. He also was engaged in a little farming he also was an illegal immigrant form Mexico. But on December 6th 1943 the lives of him and his family changed. (Chronicle tribune) He received in the mail his “orders for Transferred Man to Report for Induction” papers. Three hundred and seventy-five days after receiving this notice in the mail Private Albert Velasquez would be in the control of The Germans Nazi Government as a POW.
The Beginning of the Beginning
Upon receiving his papers he reported to Local Board no.2 of Grant County for induction onto the armed services at 7:00 A.M. on December 10th 1943. He was assigned to the U.S. Army and trained as a private in combat engineering and heavy gunner. Shortly after his training he was sent to France with a replacement company arriving after the D-day, Invasion of Normandy. Once on the continent he was assigned to Company D, of the 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division, Third Army. Commanded by Lieutenant General George Smith Patton Jr. General Omar Bradley commanded the American forces and General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe. The allied forces were opposed by Field Marshal Rommel and General Von Kluge. (www.wikkipedia.com) November 22 the last letter his wife Carmen would receive form him before his capture was received. “All well and safe loving greetings and congratulations fondest love darling. This was very reassuring to his wife having just had a baby to hear that her husband was safe was a great sense of relief. But things would go down hill from there.
Freedom Isn't Free
Patton’s Third Army having overran Brittany, then turned sweeping east across France through Tours and Orleans. Along the way his company was among those sent into the Ardennes Forest to clean out the Germans. After a heavy artillery barrage his company moved in. The Germans, who were apparently not there and were expecting an attack, Directed there own artillery barrage on the company and then counterattacked. The soldiers who survived the barrage were surrounded and killed. But a few were captured. (www.wikkipedia.com) (letters from Albert) The War Department reported Albert Velasquez as Missing In Action (mia) on November 28, 1944.
Carmen Velasquez Received confirmation of his capture on December 18th . This telegram stated “The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your husband Private Albert Velasquez has been reported missing in action since twenty eight November in France if furthered details or other information are received you will be promptly notified.” On December 8th 1944 she received a letter from him as allowed by the Geneva Convention. Saying he had been as a POW in Germany and is in good health.(letter from Stalag-XII-A)
The Inital Capture
According to family recorded November 28 1944 played out like this. Enemy tanks and infantry were reported heading west form Pfarebersweiler at and estimated strength of 200 SS of the 3755 dug in around the forest supported by heavy artillery, this was in addition to those send heading west. It was reported the moral was very low, with some enemy deserters who refuse to fight and left the village of guenviller, all retreating to saarbrucken, which is just across the border of France to Germany. One battalion of SS troops was also reported in this area. There was a bridge reported here that was 24 feet wide and 15 feet high was reported intact and a patrol had spotted an additional undermined number of tanks in Pfarebersweiler The 1st battalion, D Company was part of this group, had advanced toe the high ground south of Farbersviller receiving heavy artillery, mortorfire, and heavy enemy small army fire. Later towards night-fall a counterattack was received. This is when Albert was captured.
POW... Life Behind Bars
He was a prisoner in three different camps; Stalag 12a from December 3, 1944 to December. 20 1944; Stalag 4b, December 23,1944 to January 2, 1945; and work camp –bon-kommit form January 3, 1945 to May 12, 1945. While a POW he worked with other prisoners in a labor camp excavating an underground facility by wheel barrel so the facility could be used as an underground airplane parts factory. Their quarters were cramped, housing 200 men in a single barracks with locked doors and no windows. They had inferior clothing, little food and medicine and were given very little coal to warm there barracks during the bitter winter. He was forced to walk about seven miles each way to the work site. Including passing through German towns and villages where the prisoners were subject to the scorn and abuse of the local population. Once a week all the prisoners were brought out of their barracks, lined up and told they were going to be shot. (app. For POW compensation)
The Beginning of The End
The German field armies contained to fight fiercely against the Russians but on the western front they surrendered to generals Montgomery and Eisenhower on may 5th, 1945 and may 6th Harry s. Truman who took office on April 12th, 1945 and prime minister Winston Churchill formally announced the surrender on may 8th 1945.(www.wikipedia.com)
The Delicious Taste of Freedom
There is no record to tell how Albert was returned to allied control. But he did say that near the time of the German surrender the prison guards deserted there post and he just walked away from the camp and back to friendly forces. His records state he arrived at friendly forces on may 26, 1945 about 40 pounds underweight when he returned to the United states he was sent to Fort Adir Oregon and worked as a cook to be near food he also worked in the machine chop, which helped him learn about the tool and die making trade. Before receiving his honorable discharge on October 31, 1945, he was promoted to Private First Class, awarded the coveted Combat Infantry Badge, the Good Conduce Medal and two overseas bars he also receive European African Middle Eastern Campaign medal, American campaign medal, the POW medal, and 60 years later the Bronze star.
The Fall of a Hero
Albert Velasquez Died on October 4th 1978 of natural causes in Marion General Hospital(Chronicle Tribune). He died and American citizen and hero. He was survived by his wife his five daughters and his five sons. He was a great man and one of Marion’s many unknown heroes.
--Anthony.Russell 09:04, 6 June 2007 (PDT)