A Monroe man details his 36 days of captivity and survival in Goldfish - Silver Boot’ MONROE - It’s never too late to tell a story that can offer a teachable moment. That’s what Monroe resident Harvey Horn is hopeful his book, “Goldfish-Silver Boot, The Story of a World War II Prisoner of War,” will accomplish by offering a story which reaffirms the power of resiliency and survival during horrendous moments while telling the tale of a POW’s experience. “I hope this book helps to keep alive information about what service people did in order to defeat the enemy,” said Horn. “It will help keep alive what World War II meant to this country. If they read the book, they’ll come away with the understanding that a human being is capable of doing unbelievable things. They adapt, adjust and survive. They take on different tasks to overcome danger.” The 87-year-old Horn was attached to the 772nd Bomber Squadron, 463th Bomber Group, 15th Air Force based in Foggia, Italy, as a navigator in a crew led by John Lincoln. Assigned to the B-17G named “Pretty Baby’s Boys,” the flight’s mission on March 20, 1945 was to bomb the marshalling yards south of Vienna at Amstettin, Austria. But, the plane was hit by enemy fire over Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and had to ditch into Quarnaro Bay off of Fiume, Italy (now Rijeka, Croatia). The flight crew became missing in action and prisoners of war of the German Navy at same time. And for 36 days Horn was held captive, not knowing what would happen to him until he and other POWs were able to capture German guards and turn them over the U.S. 3 Army 86th Blackhawk Division. My little story’ Horn would later be discharged from the Army Air Corps in August 1945, graduating from college using the G.I. Bill. Though he had a successful career in the plastics field, he had problems in his civilian life, not realizing how the stress of the war affected his behavior, he said. Decades later, a friend persuaded him to go the local V.A. hospital for a hearing checkup. There, he learned he had been suffering all that time with post-traumatic stress syndrome. “I started to put together a lot of things I had forgotten,” said Horn, who is the past commander of the Hudson Valley Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War and is a member of the Jewish War Veterans Irving Zukerman Post in Monroe. “I realized I had some of the same issues going on that other POWs had.” Several years ago, his grand-niece asked him to recount his story for a school project. “Once I was able to start talking about my experiences, I put it down on paper,” he said. “With the encouragement of others, I decided to publish it.” In his book - published this past September, Horn writes about the circumstances surrounding his joining the Army Air Corps, becoming a navigator for the B-17G’s 11-30 crew and that flight of March 20, 1945. A Jew under German guard He tells readers about the trauma of ditching at sea, watching that large aircraft sink and officially becoming an MIA. Horn recounts what happened when a German gunboat pulled up to them and towed their raft to shore, giving the crew the added title of POW
and for him, Jewish POW, now under German guard. “I was a Jew in the hands of the Germans,” wrote Horn. “For the first time, I started to think of what would happen to me. I never, ever, ever, thought about being captured by the Germans. It just never entered my mind.” Horn also writes about his interrogation, regular delousing, his decision to tell his captors up front that he’s Jewish, being held in a three foot by eight foot, dark closet in solitary confinement and his captor’s comment that “American Jews were different from European Jews.” “Years later Lorin (the plane’s co-pilot) told me that they thought I was put into solitary because I was Jewish,” he wrote. “I think that I survived because the Germans in Italy knew that the war was lost. I was very fortunate.” Horn also describes being given a 40 to 50 pound suitcase filled with grain, which he and others had to carry for their grueling journey to Germany - via foot, trolleys, carts and trains - eventually to Stalag 13D in Nuremberg via the Brenner Pass and Austria. He made that trip with severely blistered feet. There, prisoners received Red Cross packages. The can opener Horn was given as part of those parcels - along with his dog tags with marked “H” for Hebrew, are the few possessions from that time in his life he holds onto. “When I look at my dog tags, I recall my life in the Army Air Corps,” said Horn. “Every serviceman wears his dog tags night and day to identify who you are. I’m glad I kept my dog tags.” When it became clear the U.S. 3 Army was approaching where they were, guards ordered Horn and a small group to leave the compound. Not knowing why or where they were going, they walked under the constant barrage of shelling from U.S. fighter planes. “Someone in the group started to talk to the Sergeant that the war was lost,” wrote Horn, as the firepower continued. “He should give up
. After a short pause, he agreed. We could see a farmhouse off to the right of the road. Quickly, we left the road.” Hiding in the barn and wine cellar, the group kept undercover and survived until their emancipation by the Americans. War is a terrible thing’ “I truly believe that only people who fought war, who put their lives on the line, they are the only ones who understand,” said Horn. “Only the service people the men and women who fought war can understand what war means. It’s the absolute last resort. People should understand that.” Horn is concerned that some young people may not know what World War II is all about, including the sacrifices made by that generation. He welcomes the opportunity to speak with them about his war experiences. “If you speak to high school kids, they don’t know a lot of what that’s all about,” he added. “Maybe they know Pearl Harbor or Normandy or the islands in the South Pacific, but not this. My little story adds to all the other stories. War is a terrible thing. You do things you’d normally never, ever do. But you’re called upon to do certain things because it’s the right thing to do.” The author To have Harvey Horn speak to your community or school group, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this book helps to keep alive information about what service people did in order to defeat the enemy. It will help keep alive what World War II meant to this country. If they read the book, they’ll come away with the understanding that a human being is capable of doing unbelievable things. They adapt, adjust and survive. They take on different tasks to overcome danger.” Harvey Horn The book “Goldfish-Silver Boot, The Story of a World War II Prisoner of War,” by Monroe resident Harvey Horn is $10.95 and can be purchased on www.amazon.com. All proceeds and royalties from the book are benefitting the Orange County Veterans Coalition and the Jewish War Veterans Irving Zukerman Post in Monroe.