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20 AUG / SEPT 2010 After that, the draft went into effect.” I n 1929, when Bennie Hixon and D. B. McKay were in first grade together in Mangham, Louisiana, they had no idea that one day their devotion to country and friendship would take them across the world, where they would meet in a newly liberated POW Camp. And though that day did not happen by chance, these two amazing men were part of a journey that is nothing short of inspiring more than sixty-five years later. Not bad for a couple of small-town boys born only a few weeks apart. “We weren’t the closest of pals, but we were good friends and played football together,” says Bennie Hixon of Monroe, Louisiana. “Everyone from a small town like Mangham knows each other. We were friends, even though we had never run together, and I was worried about him.” And Bennie had a lot to be worried about. After enlisting in the Army on the last day of voluntary enlistment in 1942, Bennie knew that the war against the Allies was serious. “I went through Basic Training at Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then through my first year of training with the 14th Armored Division.” When asked about his voluntary service, Benny chuckled. “I was sworn in the service on the last possible night, right at midnight. While Bennie was in Basic Training, he found out the fate of his childhood friend while reading a letter from his mother. “D. B. had enlisted while he was at LSU, and I knew it. Mom wrote a letter telling me that his plane had been shot down over Germany, and he was in a POW Camp.” In November of 1944, I left for the south of France. We moved through free France into Germany, and somewhere during that time my unit became attached to General Patton’s Army. “When the war ended,” says Bennie, “we were in southern Germany. I wanted to find my friend D. B., so I started looking for him in the liberated POW camps that we’d pass through.” “Do you know D. B. McKay?” I’d ask. “No,” was the usual answer. But then the day came that Bennie heard something different. Bennie was still attached to the 14th Armored Division in Germany, also attached to the MPs, when somebody finally told him that his friend DB was in Moosburg, Germany. “I asked my Commanding Officer if I could hitchhike back to Moosburg to see DB in the prison camp. When he arrived, all of the German guards were gone and Patton’s tanks were around the camp. “D. B. McKay,” Bennie yelled as he passed through the rows of barracks in the POW camp. “He’s right back over here in this building,” somebody said in the The Minute Mag’s Purpose: moments before Bennie and D. B.’s reunion. “Years later,” says Bennie, “D. B. told me that he hadn’t heard his name called in two or three years.” “The German Guards called all of us Mac, short for Military Combatant,” says D. B. “I was surprised (to see him) because I had no idea where he was or what he was doing, but after he told me what outfit he was attached to I understood. He was attached to one of Patton’s Outfits, and he knew I was there. He just made it a point, every time they came to camp, to ask around and try to find someone that knew me. Somebody finally knew where I was.” Although D. B. was surprised to see Bennie, Bennie wasn’t surprised at all to see his friend D. B. “When you set out to do something like that, you’re gonna do it,” says Bennie. “The most surprising thing to me was that somebody actually knew where he was. But after that, after I found out his location, I was determined to see him. “We were classmates all the way from 1st grade to graduation and knew each other real well,” confesses D. B. “I had been a bombardier on a B-17, and I was shot down in August of 1943. For a while, I was in a POW camp named Spalag Luft #3. In German, Spalag means prison, and Luft means Airman.” “I was afraid of what I might find when I got there,” says Bennie. “He was captured early in the war, and I had been told that he had been burned in the crash.” But after finding his friend after a more than two year search, Bennie was surprised to see that D. B. was okay. “D. B. parachuted down and landed in a field where German farmers where harvesting the crops. A farmer there kept him until the German soldiers arrived to take him to a POW camp.” “The people were upset because of the bombing, and you can’t blame them,” said D. B. about the incident. “You can realize how upset they were, because they were tired of being bombed.” Over the farmer’s fields on that day, D. B. was shot down by German fighter planes. “The farmers brought in a civilian doctor to take care of my wounds. I was afraid they were going to kill me, and they could have,” says D. B. By the time Bennie came along nearly two years later, D. B. had gone through a lot. “I sure wasn’t expecting him. I was pleasantly surprised, and we had a good visit. I was glad to see him. We were liberated by that time, in fact we had been free for about 2 or 3 days before I saw Bennie. The Germans were all gone. We were just being managed by a tank corp that one of the advance units out of Patton’s army had sent up. We were mostly worried about getting something to eat. There wasn’t a lot of food.” Sixty-five years later, both Bennie and D. B. love to talk about their experience. “Eventually, I became

The Minute Magazine Aug Sept 2010

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