May 24, 2013

“Our cause was independence, liberty and freedom. That cause prevails yet today.”

hoffman_wwii_05_23_13_001_websizeAs Memorial Day approaches, Marion Hoffman remembers those who flew with him, survived POW camp with him, those who came back from war and all who made the supreme sacrifice throughout the years for “our cause.”

“We lost four good men that day,” says Hoffman, a resident of Bethany Village senior living community in Centerville. He recalls Jan. 6, 1945, as if it were yesterday.

On that day his unit’s B-17 was shot down over Germany, resulting in four deaths – the co-pilot, upper turret gunner, bombardier and navigator – and six prisoners of war, including the tailgunner, Hoffman. (More about Hoffman’s World War II and POW experience)

Hoffman never forgot those who served with him. When he retired from NCR in 1983, he said, “I needed a healing process and closure” on his wartime tailgunner experiences. He finished writing and publishing a manuscript in 1989, and expanded it in 1999 as “A View from the Tail: The Last Mission.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the past few years, he has enjoyed meeting veterans and volunteers who visit and consult on the B-17 Flying Fortress Champaign Lady rebuilding project at the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio.

“We loved that plane,” Hoffman said. “It saved us.”

And every now and then he pulls out the box where he keeps mementoes: his gunner’s wings, a pocket New Testament his church gave him to carry with him, the Stalag VIIA dog tags the Germans issued, the table knife he used for dining in prison camp, and the prison war record document he retrieved after the war.

On Memorial Day, he honors those who died for the cause of independence, liberty and freedom, the cause that “prevails yet today.”

“It’s good to take time to remember.”

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