World War II Vet reflects on two historic occasions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

World War II Vet reflects on two historic occasions


The death of Osama Bin Laden fell on a historic date.  It was confirmed back on May 1, 1945 that German dictator Adolf Hitler had died.  We talked with a World War II Veteran serving in Europe when Hitler died, about the world's reaction to both historic events.

In the 1940s, Glen McClain saw many of his friends being drafted to serve in World War II.  He didn't want to be left back in Iowa alone.  So at age 17, he enlisted in the Navy.  It turned out that his crew's ship had an accident while preparing for D-Day. 

"We hit what they call a sonar mine.  It was tethered to the English Channel.  And when ours went over, that's the one that set it off, and it just blew our landing craft to smithereens.  Only three Navy personal got out alive," McClain said.

McClain was one of the survivors, and the incident later earned him a purple heart.  But it meant he was cooped up in a military hospital when he first heard the news of Hitler's suicide.  And since communication was quite different then, it took weeks to find out what had happened.

"Yeah, hell it was probably 6 weeks after they'd gotten Hitler before we found it out.  You didn't have radios and stuff, and of course all the fancy communication that we've got now," said McClain.

McClain believes that some people in Europe rejoiced when they heard of Hitler's death, but it likely didn't quite resemble the spontaneous patriotic gatherings seen in the US following Sunday's announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

The one major parallel McClain sees is that in both cases, military pressure helped lead to what he and many others have called justice, after the wrongs both Hitler and bin Laden committed in their day.

"It's great when these people can be put away with.  It's just sad that they can do what they did and hurt so many people," McClain said.

McClain now just hopes that bin Laden's death doesn't put US troops serving overseas in more danger.



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