Tom Wilson, of Mequon, Wisconsin, was dumbfounded when the German colonel who interrogated him at Stalag Luft III, the POW camp made famous in “The Great Escape,” knew his name, that he was born in Milwaukee, and the fraternity he was in.
Wilson later found that the German was a Minneapolis architect who had traveled to Germany on a pleasure trip, but the Nazis refused to let him return when World War II broke out.
Wilson had been shot down in his B-25 over Tunisia and spent a couple of years in the camp, where he played on a baseball team, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today in a sweet story.
“If we hit the ball beyond the guard rail, that was ‘no man’s land,’ which was covered with white sand so anybody walking there at night would be easily seen,” Wilson said.
His story, otherwise, is typical of the generation. He came home after the war, got a job in a factory went to work, raised a family, and remained married to his girlfriend for more than 60 years, before she died.
The one constant, as the man once said, was baseball and this evening he’ll throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game in town.