Experiences in World War II
From Omaha Beach to the Malmédy Massacre
Howard E. Nixon
6 April 1923 - 29 December 2001
Shell or shrapnel. There was no way a man could use pressure points. You
didn't have enough time or hands. A tourniquet was the only way most of the
In some of the battles over 1,000 men were wounded, killed, or out of
The medics had a time keeping the morphine warm. Most kept it in their
underpants or under their arms. The blood plasma was another thing. One medic
put it on the jeep engine since he had no antifreeze. He would run his jeep
every half hour. He finally fell asleep. His jeep stalled and froze the plasma.
And so it goes.
By this time we were liberating prison camps. What a sight. Those still
alive could barely walk they were so starved. Eating pea soup with maggots is
not very appetizing. Although the prisoners said that there was some protein in
When the Germans took prisoners they took away their shoes and clothes
and other valuables. Only one time I took anything from the Germans. It was a
watch. It happened to be a French watch and he got it off a Frenchman. He kind
of smiled a little. Then I discovered it needed a key to wind it and he didn't
After the Rhine the Germans kept backing up. About April 6 - I was 22
years old then - we were half way across Germany. Some Germans started
surrendering when they got a chance. Others were captured. There were long
lines of prisoners going back to the rear. Still Hitler wouldn't admit defeat.
We kept going. The Germans came out of the woods by the thousands. Young men
and old men mostly.
We finally reached the Russians and shook hands with them on May 7th.
They were a surly bunch. The next day, May 8th, 1945, the war was over. That
night lights went on for the first time since landing on the beach. How bright.
We breathed a sigh of relief. That night I slept like a baby. At that time I
was in Pilzen, Czechoslovakia. The Russians set up road blocks and said,
"This is as far as you are going."
After the war I and a doctor went into Russian territory to deliver
medicine to displaced persons. They were in a fenced in enclosure and what a
pathetic sight. Arms gone. One leg gone. Others hobbling around on
Then I hauled patients to Nuremberg. There was a good highway called the
Autobahn. I didn't need 4 wheel drive any more. So I removed the front drive
shaft. Then I could just sail smoothly without any vibration.
There wasn't a lot to do. We were waiting to go home, but there was talk
of sending us to Japan. I didn't like that, but then we heard of the atomic
I don't know how many wounded I hauled, but it was steady for a year.
(June '44 to June '45).
Ambulance #19 had 5 miles on it when I got it in England and it had about
20,000 miles on it when I turned it in. We left the ambulances in a field along
with hundreds of other vehicles. I said good bye to old #19.
We sat around for a while and then finally shipped us to Marseille,
France. We got on a Liberty Ship and sailed out of the harbor, past the Rock of
Gibraltar and on the way home.
We came to New York and the Statue of Liberty showed up. What a beautiful
sight. From there we went to Indiana. And then on my way home on a train.
We started getting closer to home. I started walking back and forth. I
recognized going by Tustin, then Hobart. Some old guy wanted to know about the
war, but I was so hyped up that I couldn't talk to him.
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© Copyright, Howard E. Nixon, 2001.
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