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Brave and true

Edward Snider Sr. and John Hardgrave to make D.C. trip
NOTE: The Ennis Daily News is proud to feature every week profiles of the 33 servicemen and women who are joining Honor Flight of Ellis County’s visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 7-8. These articles will appear each Monday in the EDN.

Meet Edward Snider and John Hardgrave:

Edward Snider Sr.
Branch of service: Army, 2nd Armored division
Rank: Private 1st class (PFC)
Where served: Africa, Sicily, England until D-Day then France, Belgium, Holland, Germany
When served: March 12, 1941 – Sept. 17, 1945.
Memories: My journey started in 1941 when I was drafted into the Army. I joined the 2nd Armored Division in Fort Benning, Georgia and followed with maneuvers across the area. But nothing prepared me for what I was about to encounter. I boarded a ship to Casa Blanca, Africa, dodging German subs along the way and landed on Christmas Eve. After being battle tested there, we were ready for the invasion of Sicily. The Allied Forces took the southern part and later advanced to the capitol of Palermo, ridding it of German rule.
I and two other soldiers were in charge of getting food supplies to the soldiers on the front lines. From Sicily I and fellow troops boarded ship again, this time headed for England where I stayed in the British barracks through the winter in preparation for the D-day invasion. After hitting the beaches at Normandy, there followed hours of constant fighting as the Allied troops tried to move inland. As forces continued their push through France, others and myself continued bringing supplies to the front line. When Germans would start shelling near the supply truck, we hopped off and dived underneath to escape the shrapnel. This was continuous.
I was involved in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, the bloodiest battle and the weather was bitter cold. As fighting continued into 1945 we neared the German border. One night my two buddies and I had just delivered food rations and were heading back when the driver took a wrong turn and drove us past enemy lines. Bullets started hitting the truck. We all jumped into holes. Seeing no attempt to fight, we decided to surrender. I hollered in German that we wished to surrender and they stopped shooting. We were interrogated by German officers. They wanted to know why I could speak German and I told them my great grandparents had come from Germany and spoke the language at home growing up.
After questioning us to no avail, we were taken prisoner.
There were 34 English soldiers and some Russian soldiers who were also prisoners.
Our meals consisted of old bread and potato peelings.
We were told if anyone ran away they would be shot. The next three weeks consisted mostly of walking from one small prison to another.
By this time the end of the war was near and Allied troops were on the heels of the retreating German soldiers and we prisoners. Then finally one morning, the Americans had surrounded the town we were in and we were free.
It took my buddies and me three days to sift our way through the troops to find our division. We were put back at our old job and it wasn’t much later that Germany fell. I remember church bells ringing in the towns at the news that Adolf Hitler was dead.
John Hardgrave
Branch of service: Army Air Corp, 12th Air Force
Rank: Pilot/2nd Lt, 64th troop Carrier group, 15th squadron
Where served: Italy, Mediterranean Theatre
When served: Feb. 19, 1942-Jan. 6, 1946
Memories: I did my basic training at Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls. From there went to a college training detachment in Texas. I was in western flying training (command Classification and pre-flight) at Santa Anna Air Base, Calif. After primary training, flew Ryan P.T.-22. At Fort Sumner flew a twin engine AT 17. I graduated and received my wings April 1944, Class 4HD. With rank of flight officer, my next assignment was C-44 training at Bergstrom Field, Austin.
In August 1944 went to Fort Wayne, Ind. And joined my crew as copilot. We picked up a brand new C-47 and received orders. From Bangor, Me., we flew to N. Africa, Newfoundland, the Azores and Morroco. There the French got our plane. We went to Naples to a replacement depot and were assigned to our unit, 35th squadron, 64th Troop Carrier Group, Rome.
The invasion of southern France was over. We were assigned the supply task of the French 1st Army in the Rhone River Valley.
Then back in Italy we carried out numerous freight missions. Also took wounded from the front lines to a base hospital. Our most dangerous job was supplying Italian fighters behind German lines with food and ammo.
I received my commission as 2nd Lt. in March 1945.
When the war was over I was stationed in Puerto Rico, flying troops home from Europe. In January 1946 I was relieved from active duty at Lackland Field, San Antonio and went “home to the ranch,” Sanderson, Tex.

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Posted by on Mar 24 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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