Bo Cline tells his story of spending 8 months in a prison camp in Germany during WWII
This year's Armed Forces Day Parade will be on Friday May 3rd.
One grand marshal for the parade will be World War II veteran Bo Cline.
"I was born right here in Chattanooga right down there on McCallie Avenue," Mr. Cline said.
Just before high school his family moved to Illinois.
in 1943, he was working to help pay for college, but he and a buddy decided they wanted to go fight in World War II.
"Things weren't going real good in the war you know," Mr. Cline said. "He and I decided to get on up there and volunteer."
He was sent to Texas to train. He was then sent to Europe.
He was a navigator on a B-26.
"We were called tactical air force," Mr. Cline said. "We bombed right out ahead of the troops rail roads, marshaling yards, supply dumps, things that were really right where the troops were you know."
He got to Europe in August 1944. He was 23 years old.
"I was the old guy on the crew," Mr. Cline said. 'Everybody was younger than me."
In December, during the Battle of the Bulge, the weather was so bad they couldn't fly missions.
"Two days before Christmas and things cleared up," Mr. Cline said. "The United States Army Air Corps put everything they had in the air."
They were flying over France planning to bomb a target in Germany.
"When formation was tightening up good to make the run on the target, well, I remember our tail gunner saying, 'well here is our escort coming in good now,'" Mr. Cline said. "It turned out to be German fighter planes, and so they hit us right when we were forming up to make a run on the target and we were one of the first knocked out."
They were hit behind enemy lines.
"So, I grabbed my rosary in one hand, and I got that handle on the shoot on in the other," Mr. Cline said.
He says some crew members didn't survive the plane being shot down. He couldn't see the crew members who did survive.
"I saw this wooded area. I was trying to get out of the shoot, and I saw these two soldiers running up the track toward me," Mr. Cline said. "I just stood there and waited on them."
It took him three weeks to get to a permanent prison camp north of Berlin. He walked and rode on the back of trucks..
He says his pilot was at the camp when he arrived.
"He would come to the gate where they brought in new prisoners looking for me, and he said when they brought me in he hardly recognized me," Bo Cline said.
They didn't get much to eat. Mr Cline says they were always hungry.
"We got some black bread and sometimes a little cheese," Mr. Cline said.
He was in that prison camp for 8 months.
He says they were miserable at times, but he says he was not mistreated.
"You'd bunk with someone next to you where you had two blankets," Mr. Cline said. "This was the winter time. It was cold. There was no heat. It was just wood barracks is what it was."
The war in Europe ended on May 8th 1945, but he says he wasn't released from the prison camp until early June.