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Thursday, November 7, 2013

48 Hours to Hammelburg

Patton rescue mission has Bradford connection

It was a rescue mission at the end of World War II that no one was supposed to know about – not even the person being rescued. But as Roger Alexis discovered, it’s too good a story not to be told.

“It’s a fantastic story that no one knows about. It was covered up,” Bradford resident Alexis said of his talk – called “48 hours to Hammelburg” – that will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Bradford Area Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Alexis gleans the title of his talk from a book of the same name written by Charles Whiting. Whiting writes about how in March 1945, Task Master Abraham Baum set out on a mission to liberate a POW camp at Hammelburg, Germany. No one knew the real reason Gen. George Patton ordered this dangerous mission – to rescue Lt. Col. John Waters – Gen. Patton’s son-in-law. However, there was another lesser known individual at the camp – Alexis’s brother, Jerry.

“They kept it hush-hush until after the war,” Alexis said. “The old cover-up”

Unbeknownst of the real reason for the mission, Baum’s troops traversed the 30-40 miles to Hammelburg, a venture that took two days. Alexis is prepared to tell how all this transpired as well as a little of his brother’s time in the war.

“He was captured and released three times,” he said. And, ironically, even though few had heard of Hammelburg, Alexis’s parents read something about the raid, but did not realize their own son was there.

The cover-up, the Patton connection as well as the personal connection with Alexis has this former education fired up to tell the story.

“I am so thrilled about it,” he said.

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