SYSK: Lavern Alcorn's World War II story (part two) - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Lavern Alcorn's World War II story (part two)


Lavern Alcorn of West Union served in what was known as the Army Air Corps during World War II. He went on 79 missions, but the seventh mission will stay with him forever.

On August 13, 1944, Alcorn had to bail out of his plane, landing behind enemy lines in France. French people gave him clothes and helped keep him safe.

"It was a dangerous thing for them to do," said Lavern Alcorn.

Alcorn bailed out of his plane after it caught on fire.

He landed behind enemy lines in France and even crossed paths with some German soldiers, but thanks to some help from French people he made it back to safety.

The now 88-year-old said he was behind enemy lines for about a week, then the Canadians came. Alcorn opted to stay in Europe instead of going home.

Something interesting, he met up with his brothers in London. One of his brothers worked for the U.S. Postal Service and sent a telegram to his parents letting them know Lavern was safe.

They actually got it the same day, but a few hours earlier than the one saying he was missing in action.

Lavern Alcorn was safe, but it always bothered him he never got a chance to thank those who helped him.

"I never knew any of their names. I didn't want to know their names because I was afraid I'd be captured, and if I didn't know names I couldn't tell on them. So, I made a point not to do that," said Alcorn.

But about a month after Alcorn got home from the war, he got a letter from an officer in Paris saying a man inquired about him. Alcorn and the Frenchman who first brought him to his house began writing letters back and forth.

The Frenchman passed away, but his family invited Alcorn back to France. The family welcomed Alcorn and his wife with lots of celebrations, and Alcorn finally got a chance to say thanks. Here are photos from the Alcorn's 20-day trip.

"They wanted to thank me for what we'd done for them, and I wanted to thank them for what they'd done for me. It was a tremendous experience," said Alcorn.

A tremendous experience made possible thanks to tremendous kindness shown almost 70 years ago.

There's only one person from the French family who is still alive. She was three years old when Lavern Alcorn's plane went down. She and Lavern still exchange a letter about once a year.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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