Life As A U.S. Army Medical Corps During World War II – With Veteran Ferd Mueller: Sleeping in 10 inches of snow… waking up to blood dripping on you from the upstairs…these are just a few of the amazing sacrifices the men of World War II made to preserve our freedom. Tune into hear Ferd Mueller recount his unique experience as part of a regiment awarded the Presidential Citation Unit for their extraordinary heroism in action during World War II.
Air Date: 06/17/2020
Guest: Ferd Mueller
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
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And we have been so blessed in this country: every generation has had men and women willing to step up and pay the ultimate price, sacrifice their youth most often in order to defend this nation. And so, we’re really honored to get to do our veteran interviews. We’ve one of those coming up for you later in the day.
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David Barton is with us. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton is with us, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach.
Alright, David, Tim, another one of our World War Two veterans, these are always good to hear. And folks, and get more of them on our website at wallbuilderslive.com and also the CD that we have with a mix of veteran interviews. And Tim, you had a chance to interview this gentleman from World War Two.
Hearing Their Stories
Yeah, I mean, Rick, we talk about all the time how special it is to talk to these guys and hear some of their stories. Sometimes in the conversations we have, it’s much longer than what we’re able to air. And so, sometimes we try to abbreviate it to make it a little more manageable for a listening audience. But, man, when they start just giving you details about their life and their experiences and how miserable some of those conditions were and how unprepared and the equipment and just getting into stuff, it makes me really grateful that I didn’t have to go through those kind of things, it makes me appreciate them so much more.
And even the modern military, the technology they have, the benefits we have now, I mean his is one of those stories where you start hearing things and you just go, well, God thank you that I haven’t had to do that and thank you that they were guys like him who paid that price. And just such a cool story.
Alright, we’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll have Tim Barton’s interview with Ferd Mueller. Stay with us, you’re listening to Wallbuilders Live.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. This is Tim Barton and I am joined by Ferd Mueller, who is a World War Two veteran and we’re going to get part of his story today. Mr. Mueller, thank you so much for being with us on the program today.
Welcome Ferd Mueller
Mr. Mueller. I would love if you would share some of your story with us. I know you’re a World War Two, veteran. When did you get involved, were you drafted or did you join the military?
Oh, I was drafted in 1943 in June.
Which branch of the service were you drafted into?
I wanted to get into the Air Force, but I was drafted into the infantry.
I see that you also did some other service with the Air Force at some point. Was that training branches or do they just cross train you in things?
Well, what happened is I kept harassing the officers that I wanted get into the Air Force from infantry and they finally agreed that that was okay.
Would you mind sharing some of your experiences with us from World War Two?
I was in the 63rd Infantry Division. We were on our way to southern France where we landed. And I think the whole idea of our group going by ship to southern France, we landed in Marseille and from there we went by railroad to a small area called Hunawihr in France. From there, we went into the Vosges Mountains.
From there, we went into a small town of Jebsheim, France, which was sort of at the base of the foothills. The Germans were in the foothills looking down on the town of Jebsheim. And they had their 88 cannons up in the hills, they’re with them. And when they were firing, they were firing straight down the main street of Jebsheim, creating something of a disturbance in there.
254th Infantry Regiment
Our 254th infantry regiment was there to quiet the Germans down or get them out of there one way or the other. So, after about 7 days of rather intense battle, we’re able to neutralize the Germans. The regiment was you have a Presidential Citation for their action there. I guess, aside from the fighting, the toughest thing to handle was the snow. It snowed during the night and when we wake up in the morning, there were 10 inches of snow on top of our sleeping bags.
Is that when you were in France?
In France, yeah. So, as one of the experiences recalled in Jebsheim was a couple of French soldiers showed up on a half drag, that’s a weapon that has front wheels and tracks for back wheels. They pulled up on the side of the building that we had headquarters in. And when one of them started to get on the half-track, he grabbed into the handles of the 60 millimeter gun that was on the half-track and fired into the window of the headquarter.
Oh no! Was anyone injured from that?
I don’t understand yet. Oh, no one got hit, but the bullets came pouring in through the window, but nobody was injured and maybe 10 or 15 minutes later, this Frenchman showed up with the door. He knocked on the door and when I answered the door knock, he said, any wounded? I got to clobber him for what they had done, but I didn’t think that that was going to help anything.
So, shortly after that, the Germans started firing into the town and they fired into the second story of the building and once we had our headquarters, there are a number of French GIs sleeping up there in that second story or in there. So, I don’t know how many of them were injured, but the blood was dripping down from the ceiling.
And so, I figured somebody had gotten hit. We stayed there the next night as well, sleeping on the ground. And by the third day, the Germans were, rather they’re out of their position up in the hills. And so, the city Jebsheim was kind of put back to normal where they could spend their time, the people could spend their time in their homes and do the normal things that they were doing.
Was this before D-day invasion?
Yes, it was.
Were you in France at the time of the invasion?
Yes, I was in France at the time of the invasion, but I was in the south of France rather than on the east coast of France where the action was taking place. Our organization, our regiment in our division was never in the invasion group. We just came up from the south of France through Marseille and several other of the smaller cities on the railroad, the 40&8 railroad was kind of a special railroad…
They were called 40&8, that was on the doors of the rail cars, which was 40 men and 8 horses. And that’s what usually was in those cars when they were moving cross country. We didn’t have horses, but we had the 40 men that were born there pretty and that was not their first-class travel facilities in France. So that was just an engine pulling along the boxcars.
As you all were in France, did you have accommodations? Was there a base where you were stationed or how did you all live and where did you all sleep at that time?
We either slept in foxholes or out on open ground. There are no accommodations at all. And probably if there had been accommodations, we wouldn’t have been allowed to use them, because there’s a lot of danger when you’re in a building. You can’t tell whether anybody is coming or when anybody is there. You’re just taken for granted that you’re safe in your little room, which is not true.
Wow! So, did you all have supply trucks or wagons that came in on the train? Or how did you all get what you all needed?
Well, it’s division and each regiment and each company had their own cooks that prepared the food and the food for the most part then was put in insulated cans and shipped to the front. So, if you’re close enough to a kitchen, you had hot food. And not too bad, though most of the cooks were reasonably well trained and skilled in doing large by cooking so that you got some pretty decent food for the most part. But if you are too far out of the rear Echelon area to get the cooked food, you had emergency food.
Meals for Soldiers
During your time in the war, did you have a lot of meals that were well prepared and taken care of or do you have a lot of cold meals?
I’ll tell what. Mostly when you’re in the battle force and you’re fighting up in the front, you’re not going to get hot food, that’s for sure. So, most of the meals were either emergency rations or cold leftovers.
Mr. Mueller, of your time in service. Is there one moment or one story, one event that stands out to you the most?
Well, we’re still at Jebsheim, we’re fighting with the French 1st Army and the French 1st commander was there an open field as well. But instead of sleeping on the ground like the rest of us were doing in the snow, he had a nice little mobile home that he had pulled up there.
And when we were trying to communicate with him to decide whether we were going to pull back out again and fire that the Germans were raining down on us, a couple of us went to his little mobile home, it was just about a one couple of size, knocked on the door and he and his girlfriend were enjoying a fine dinner. I thought that was pretty unusual for the battlefront.
A Date on the Battlefront
That does seem like a weird place to take a date to the battlefront.
I would think so. He didn’t invite us in however. He agreed that our own officers probably should have had us pull back out of the line of fire. But that wasn’t the way the program was set up. French officer was supposed to be running the show, so the individual officers in that particular unit weren’t going to take any responsibility for what they should be doing as you might suspect.
Sure. Sure. Well, Mr. Mueller, one of the reasons we love to get interviews with World War Two veterans and other military veterans is most people just don’t know much about American history and especially not about so many American heroes, which is why we do these programs. Is there anything that you think we should know or something you want to encourage us with even from your own life as we close today?
I think that a lot of young guys that are used to driving their cars around at night, getting into trouble, if they had to spend the night in a foxhole, I think they could sober up considerably. First of all, you dig the hole. And if you don’t, you know what the consequences are.
So, they dig the hole and what happens if you got a buddy that will help you dig and you could dig a two man hole, it helps considerably. And the ammunition and Pioneer platoon or bring in some logs or something that you can put over the top of your holes so that if the enemy is shooting at you, they’re not likely to put one down the hole for you.
And I guess, what happens when you’re in an infantry group, you’re busy looking around all the corners and under everything that you can just to see that you’re not caught off guard by some ambitious enemy trying to figure out how he’s going to put all of his enemies away for the day.
Being Shot At
And it gets pretty real when you’re out there and somebody is shooting at you know. I’ll tell you, you can sober up when you’re got your rifle and your boots and your pack on your back and you’re out in the open, enjoying the holiday with the enemy. He might have substantially better weapons that what you got. I can tell you that.
There were times when I was cold out there in the outside in the wintertime. I’m sure, my ears were frozen because they keep peeling all the time now and this is a lot of years later. But you got everything on that you couldn’t possibly carry and wear and you’re still cold and then you don’t knock on somebody’s door and go inside and get warm.
You don’t do the same thing in your own home and you’re just out there and you’re going to have to stay there until things change hopefully, and the weather warms up and you can get reasonably comfortable again. People should and answer is certainly not a comfortable occasion.
A Sobering Situation
But when you’re outside and it’s cold and there’s no way to get inside, that’s a pretty sobering situation. And you don’t have to do, there’re many days of that before you get tired of it. Or it wouldn’t be so bad if a guy could set on the grandstand and watch what was going on. But when you’re part of it, it gets pretty serious.
The thing that bothers me is that even our history books are not printing the truth anymore. And young kids coming out of school have no idea what war was about. I understand that there are a lot of kids that think the United States was the aggressor instead of Japan. And you know why? Absolutely, unbelievable to think that kids are growing up with that kind of a background. And I don’t think that anybody has to tell me who’s doing the dirty work in Europe.
Well, Mr. Mueller, you’re right. Too many kids are getting the wrong information. And that’s why we’re grateful that people like you would come and share your story so we can learn firsthand what happened, not what somebody wrote about in the book, but what somebody who actually was there and experienced and lived and saw. And so, we’re really grateful that you would come and share your story with us today.
Thank you very much for your encouragement. You take care. Thanks, Tim.
To all our listeners, hang on. We’ll be right back with David Barton and Rick Green.
Share Your Vet’s Story
Hey friends, if you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long in all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories.
Here on WallBuilders Live, once in a while we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those frontlines, that have made incredible sacrifices, have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people. One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War Two veterans.
You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live from folks that were in the band of brothers to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived being Indianapolis to so many other great stories you’ve heard on WallBuilders Live. You have friends and family that also serve.
If you have World War Two veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please email us at email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. And Tim, thanks for interviewing Mr. Mueller and you, thank you for coming on the program. I know our folks enjoy getting to hear the stories of what really made it possible for us to even enjoy freedom today.
You know as I listen to the interview, Rick and it’s just amazing to think of what he went through. You wake up in a sleeping bag with 10 inches of snow on top and by the way, they did not have all season sleeping bags back then. It was kind of like having a blanket on you. And you sleep one night, you wake up and there’s blood dripping on you from the floor above where guys have been killed with the German bombardment or one of your allies backs up to your headquarters and fires off a machine gun into the headquarters.
But you know, it was okay because 10 minutes later, they came by and said, hey, is everybody okay? Is anybody hurt? And yeah, when he said, I just wanted to sock the guy. I thought, well yeah, I kind of feel bad for, I wasn’t there and I want to hit him for you. That’s ridiculous.
Or you get your commander, the French commander pulls up in a, I don’t know, was it like a mobile home, kind of a trailer with a girl inside and you guys do what you want to and he’s supposed to be commanding. But I was thinking too about, I started writing down some of his understatements, because he was just making comments. He said, well, the Germans were creating a disturbance there, so we were sent in.
A Presidential Citation Unit
And he said our job was to quiet them down. And then he said we were able to neutralize them. Oh, wait a minute. It was 7 days a brutal battle and he didn’t say brutal at all. But how do we know that? Because the unit got a Presidential Citation. To get a Presidential Citation for your unit is no small deal. I mean, that’s a lot of metals given out for that unit. And it’s just like it was, matter of fact, the way he talked about it.
Yeah, it’s one of the things that, I mean, guys, we talk about it so often even off air, the perspective that these guys had because of how much life they’ve lived, of what they experienced in World War Two and his perspective is so evident when he looks back and what he thinks was a big deal or not a big deal. You know, even the very end of the interview when I said, okay, so what’s one thing that really stands out to you or one thing that we can learn or take away?
And he mentioned, you know, these young men out and driving their cars, but what he said is, I wish they would, at least the way I understood what he was saying is, I wish they would get perspective. Because once you’ve been over in a foxhole and you’ve had to experience a different level of life and seriousness and it makes you grow up in the thread on life, when you don’t dig this foxhole, it’s not going to be good for you and there’s people shooting at you.
And what he was communicating, the best that I understood it was that I wish people just had a bigger life perspective. Where I thought you know, even where we are right now, with some of the craziness in our nation and all the stuff that’s going on, so often we’re so short sighted because we haven’t had the same level of life experiences to know what truly is important, what truly does matter, where there’re truly is value in different things.
And you know, being in some of these situations, I can only imagine how much more you value time with family, you value time at home, you are so grateful that you have a home, that you have the liberties and freedoms. And right, I mean, he kind of laid this out when you’re over and you’re getting shot at, you’re just so grateful when there comes a time you’re not being shot at and for so many Americans, I think we just, thank God, we’ll never have to be in that position to gain that perspective. But we just don’t have the same perspective to value the same things in life that probably we should value; we undervalue because we just don’t have that appreciation for them.
Well, I thought it’s interesting. He pointed out the kids coming out of school today don’t even know what World War Two is about and they come out thinking that America was the aggressor rather than Germany or Japan. And so, Tim, as you mentioned, you can have it by the experience, unfortunately, we don’t have to have that. But you can also have it by learning about it and we’re certainly not learning about it now.
I was struck by the fact that a few weeks ago, President Trump signed a bill to teach Holocaust education in America. Now, why do you have to sign a bill to teach Holocaust education in America? Is because you’re not getting in schools. You’re actually having to pass a bill to say, hey, let’s remember to teach about the Holocaust in World War Two.
Life As A U.S. Army Medical Corps During World War II – With Veteran Ferd Mueller
Well, if you don’t teach about that, that’s how you can come out of schools thinking America is the bad guy, because you don’t even know what happened and you don’t know what the experiences were. So, there is so much here that you get from listening to these guys, but there’s also a good admonition there that we need to know what the history of this conflict is, even how it happened and what role Americans played in the price they paid.
We’re out of time today, folks. You can get more of these interviews with veterans at our website wallbuilderslive.com. That’s also a great place to get into the archives of programs we’ve had over the last few weeks on the hot topics of the day, looking at all of them from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective.
So, visit wallbuilderslive.com today and also be sure and send in your questions to us. That’s at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get to as many of those as we can on our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs. We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.