Tricounty News

Huschle gets Purple Heart ceremony he waited 69 years for

Lawrence Huschle of Eden Valley enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Snelling in March 1942, not long after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and Hitler declared war on the United States. He was trained as a waist gunner on a B-17-E bomber Flying Fortress. On his fifth mission, his plane was shot down over Bremen, Germany; that was June 13, 1943. Controls and electrical power were out, and they were 28,500 feet up. The order came to bail out, but the captain’s parachute got caught in the door. Huschle pushed him out, then got the ball turret gunner out; by then it was only him and the pilot left, and they both jumped. Huschle’s parachute was buffeted by air blasts caused by exploding shells in the air; this jerked and ultimately fractured his spine during the fall. He and his navigator landed in a swamp and were captured not long thereafter. “For you, the war is over,” is what their captors told them. They would hear this again and again.

Eight days of bread-and-water interrogation by the Gestapo and they were taken by train to Munich. Eventually, Huschle was taken to Stalag 17B, the camp made famous by the Broadway play and the movie “Stalag 17” and later the TV sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Huschle would spend 23 months and 21 days as a Prisoner of War at the hands of the Germans. As the war ended, their captors marched them westward through Austria to escape the Soviets. They were camped in the woods when they were liberated by General Patton’s 13th Armored Division.

It was during a medical examination in Texas after his return home that his back injuries were discovered. By the time family (his brother Ray and grandsons Gary and Troy) tried to get him the Purple Heart, they were told it was impossible. Only one member of his crew was still alive to attest to Huschle’s injuries; that was enough.

Family and friends of Lawrence Huschle gathered Sunday, Jan. 13, at the St. Cloud Armory for the ceremony. Major General Jerry Lang officially presented the medal. Huschle also received a medal for his time as a POW, and the General privately gave him his two-star general Army coin.

All in all, it was a proud day for Lawrence and his family and friends.
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