Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I thank you for reading this post in it's entirety.

Today is Veteran's Day here in the U.S. A day to honor Americans veterans of all wars.

I think of my Grandpa Charlie in remembrance of this important day. He was one of many that fought in World War 11, but he is a personal link to history for me as a veteran who was related by blood and as someone who took the time and had the courage to write about his experience in the war and as a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

His story is difficult to read, containing many graphic details they do not go into in the news or even broadcasted programs. But I would like to share a few words of this brave and humble man in hopes that you too will remember this day with appreciation and be thankful for all those who sacrificed their lives, their time, their health, their families and even their spirits in the face of such atrocities.

"In my life, I have actually met some people who claim the "Holocaust" of the Jewish people was exaggerated, or even made up entirely. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the truth is much more horrible then the general public could even imagine. I know, because I am an eyewitness: a World War 2 veteran and survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Often when I mention a little of my war time experiences, people call me a war hero. I have never considered myself a hero. I was just doing the job I enlisted to do.
So many people were killed or completely disabled by their war service, that I consider myself very blessed to have come home at all.

Many years later, one of our K.L.B. members came across paperwork that showed that all of the Allied Air Men prisoners of Buchenwald were scheduled to be shot only three days after we had left for Sagan Stalag Lufft 111. So Providence was on my side, even if sometimes I doubted my future.
The Germans pretty much destroyed my health, but God protected my spirit."

Staff Sergeant Charles William Roberson
March 14, 1919 ~ October 25, 2005

March 16th, 1944, positioned as a Ball turret gunner, Charlie Roberson was shot down in an area near Samar Enout, France.
The pilot of the B-17, Bob Brown, and him hid in occupied France, helped by the underground movement, Maquie, who tried to get them back to England.
Betrayed by a friend of the French Chief of Police, they were captured, interrogated, beaten, transported in a cage and imprisoned in Feresnes in Paris.

Their transportation in the cramped, sickening condition of the boxcars to Buchenwald, in Germany, was much worse then that of cattle.
Upon their arrival at the Koncentration Lager Buchenwald (K.L.B. club), they were then "deloused", stripped of clothing, shaved, with powder thrown over their bodies and in their faces.
Stuffed into overly crowded barracks, fed grass and potato peeling soup, these men witnessed and experienced horrors from before dawn to after sunset. Enlisted, Charlie weighed 137 lbs. Liberated, he weighed in at 90 lbs.

In October, 1944, they were taken to Sagon, up near the Russian border to Stalag Lufft 111.
Conditions were considerably better although unbelievably cold.

Late January 1945, upon hearing that the Russian army was about to break through the German lines on the border, they were forced to march from Sagan to Mooseberg, down through Bavaria.
With freezing temperatures and 15 to 25 inch deep snow, Charlie almost lost his feet but for a Colonel Goodrich who rubbed them with snow and supplied dry socks and shoes.
They arrived in Mooseberg 3 days later and stayed there until April.

On April 29th, 1945, they awoke to what they thought was thunder only to find tanks surrounding the camp. They saw an American flag and knew they were liberated!
General Patton, commander of the 14th Armored Division ordered surrender. The camp commandant surrendered without a fight.

Charlie Roberson had been a prisoner of war for one year and five days. He arrived home in St. Louis late May.
Awarded a Purple Heart, the American Campaign Medal, World War 11 Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Bronze Service Star.

In my selfish and ignorant youth, I did not recognize the value of his actions and sacrifice while he was alive. But I do now. I am so grateful for all the service men and woman went through to insure a free nation and hope that we will continue to learn from the valuable lessons that dark time has taught us.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy


  1. Thankyou for posting this, I too have heard people say the holocaust was exagerrated.
    We live very near to the imperial war museum so often visit. When they had the Holocaust exhibition I left in tears.
    We must remember the veterans who fought against this evil.
    God bless you, Juliet.

  2. Oh, MFM! Thank you so much for sharing this . . . his story is going to stay with me . . . so vivid and touching and selfless.

  3. Thank you both for taking the time to read his story!
    I love you for it!

  4. Wonderful post! We definitely need to remember & appreciate our veteran & active duty servicemen & women!

  5. This is a very touching story. Although I wish very much there was no need for war, there are times when it is necessary. I am very grateful for the people like your grandfather who fought through terrible conditions and situations to stop the evil that was Hitler. Because of him and his comrades, many lives were saved. Thank you for sharing your story with us. ~Cindy Lietz

  6. I've often thanked God that my father landed in Europe one day after Germany surrendered (he always says they heard he was coming and just gave up!). My brother-in-law's father was not so fortunate. He, too was a POW, but would never talk about any of it. He was a strong strapping young man on entry, and weighed 89 lbs. when rescued.

    Thank your grandfather for me, too. Were it not for men like him, you and I would not know the life we've known, and the freedom to talk about it.

    Thanks for posting this!

  7. I too would like to thank you for sharing your grandfather's story. I'm so glad that he survived that ordeal. It's very admirable when people are willing to put their lives on the line to help others.

    My father is a Vietnam veteran, so Veterans Day is always an important day in my family. He was a helicopter pilot, and he was shot down three times. Fortunately for all of us, he was never captured, and he returned home to my mom.

  8. A truly beautiful story of your grandfather. My da fought there also but came home after a much easier time. I know that it affected him deeply though he never spoke of it.
    Thank you.


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, it means a lot to me.