“It’s not something that I am proud of.”
AN ESTIMATED 93,000 Americans were captured by the Germans during the Second World War. Ray Maloney was one of them.
The 93-year-old resident of Naples, Florida was just 21 on Nov. 6, 1944 when he bailed out of his P-47 Thunderbolt over northern Italy. Maloney had been strafing an enemy train when his single-engine fighter-bomber was riddled with anti-aircraft rounds. Seconds before the aircraft slammed into a mountainside, the young flier’s chute opened and he found himself on the ground.
Dazed, confused and suffering from a cracked spine, Maloney was spotted and picked up by a German patrol. After being treated and interrogated, he became an unwilling resident of POW camp Stalag Luft III near what’s now Żagań, Poland. He’d spend the rest of the war as an inmate there.
Conditions were harsh in the facility, which was the inspiration of the classic 1963 film The Great Escape. But cramped barracks, mind-numbing boredom and food shortages weren’t the worst of his troubles. In this latest podcast from our friends at AudioBurst.com, Maloney describes to the host of the radio program Hometown Heroes the heavy psychological toll of being a prisoner of war. It’s worth a listen.
(Originally published on MHN on April 13, 2016)