A Boy Called Jesse: A Hometown Hero Joshua Bowen

ISBN: 9781515211983

Published: July 24th 2015

Paperback

26 pages


Description

A Boy Called Jesse: A Hometown Hero  by  Joshua Bowen

A Boy Called Jesse: A Hometown Hero by Joshua Bowen
July 24th 2015 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, RTF | 26 pages | ISBN: 9781515211983 | 4.36 Mb

Earl Crawford Jr. was born and raised in Aledo, Illinois. As a small boy, he liked to dress up as the famous bank robber Jesse James, so his teacher nicknamed him Jesse. Jesse was nineteen years old when he shipped out to Le Havre, France. FromMoreEarl Crawford Jr. was born and raised in Aledo, Illinois. As a small boy, he liked to dress up as the famous bank robber Jesse James, so his teacher nicknamed him Jesse. Jesse was nineteen years old when he shipped out to Le Havre, France.

From there, his unit was sent to Munchengladbach, Germany. They traveled in small boxcars that were called 40 and 8s, because they held forty men or eight horses. Like most of the American soldiers, Jesse had lived a happy and free life in the United States.

He was unprepared for all the suffering and destruction he would witness. As the Allies won battles throughout Europe, the soldiers came upon the prison camps that we now call the Nazi concentration camps. They had heard rumors of horrific treatment of the Jews, but they didnt know if the prisoners they were seeing were criminals or innocent people. Jesses unit was sent to an open field near Sinzig, Germany, where they were told they would guard prisoners who would be brought in. When Jesse first saw the walking skeletons coming off the train, he felt sick.

Jesse was so sickened and distraught he couldnt work with the prisoners the first day. The second day, he dreaded what he had to do and took a shot of whiskey to bolster his nerve. The people from the train were so starved that he didnt think they could possibly survive. The American soldiers knew only that the prisoners were Jews from a nearby Nazi work camp. Emaciated and sick, some were too weak to live, but some did survive.

The soldiers built shelters and fed the people. There was little food, but certainly more than the newly freed prisoners had been getting. As time went on, more food was available and the prisoners who survived grew stronger. The American soldiers began the process of sorting out who the prisoners were and where they were from. Many didnt even want to think about going home, knowing their families had died. Others did want to return to their old hometowns to see if there were any survivors. Eventually the survivors of the concentration camps were sent to larger Displaced Persons (DP) camps, where they would continue to get good medical care, grow stronger, and make decisions about where to go from there.

Jesse had learned to speak some German, something that not all the soldiers made the effort to do. This gave him an advantage as he was able to communicate. He became friends with many of the Jewish survivors and others as well. Toward the end of his service, he was stationed in Austria, where he befriended a family whose children always stayed inside.

When he asked the parents why, they told him that the children didnt have shoes because there was no leather. Jesse took an old leather strap that he had tucked away and went to a cobblers shop and had shoes made. It made the family very happy, and Jesse felt good about doing something that helped people gain back a bit of their normal lives.

Although he was told not to bring home pictures of the prisoners, he felt that it was important to have proof of what he had seen. Jesse stuck pictures of the survivors in one of his combat boots when it was time to come home. One prisoner he knew came to the camp so thin and weak that nobody thought he could possibly survive.

A photographer friend of Jessies took a picture of this man, and Jesse kept a copy of it. He saw the same photo published years later, along with a recent picture of the man-he had survived, after all. Jesse has passed away now but he didnt want anyone to believe those who deny that the Holocaust actually happened. He was an eyewitness to the suffering of the concentration camp prisoners and the terrible human costs the Nazis inflicted.



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