Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004 Page: 3 of 20
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was willing to put his life on the line for his country through his
military service is in distinct contrast to a man whose father kept
him out of active military service through political connections and
who barely showed up for the limited duty he was assigned.
Thanks again for writing and good luck as President of the
A. Newton Dilley
The Capture of Wernher Von Braun (cont. from page 1)
Failure and successes let to the successful development of A-2, A-3
and A-4, each larger than the previous one. The largest, the A-4,
was a single stage rocket fueled by alcohol and liquid oxygen. It
was 46 feet high and had a thrust of 55,000 pounds and carried a
payload of over a ton, reaching a velocity of 3,500 miles per hour.
On Oct. 3, 1942, the A-4 was first launched from Peenemunde,
breaking the sound barrier and reaching an altitude of 60 miles.
In 1943 Hitler redesignated the A-4 as the "Vengeance Weapon,"
the V-2, and ordered it into production. On Sept. 7, 1944, the first
V-2 was launched toward England. When the V-2 hit London, von
Braun remarked to his team, "The rocket worked perfectly except
it landed on the wrong planet."
The SS and the Gestapo arrested von Braun for crimes against the
State. He was taken to Berlin because of his interest in space travel
rather than concentrating on larger rocket bombs. Fortunately, von
Braun's boss, Walter Dornberger, convinced the SS and the
Gestapo that without von Braun there would be no further rocket
development and Hitler would have them all shot.
When von Braun returned to Peenemunde, he held a meeting with
his staff and told them it was time to decide their fate for the end of
the war, which was sure to come. With little discussion, they
decided that they must get to the American sector and to an area
where they could hide from the Russians, the British, the French
and especially the German SS and Gestapo.
The German authorities decided to move them away from the
approaching Russians to the interior of Germany and then later to
south in Bavaria. While the last move was in progress, with aid of
forged papers and designation as a top secret organization, they
were able to move all their records, notes and data, along with some
125 scientists, to a small town on the Swiss-Bavarian border. They
hid their records in an unused mine shaft and moved into a resort
hotel, Haus Ingeborg, in the border village of Obeijoch near
On May 1 they heard on the radio that Berlin had fallen to the
Russians and that Hitler was dead. As the American Seventh Army
moved toward the Austrian border, the Germans decided to send
one man to contact the Americans so as to not appear threatening.
Wernher selected his younger brother, Magnus, for the task.
Wernher von Braun had his left arm in a shoulder to wrist cast and
could not ride the bicycle, their only transportation at the time. On
May 2, 1945, Magnus von Braun rode the bicycle down the
mountain and met up with an American sentry. Who was this lucky
Looking for this important GI, I started with the Internet site for
the 12th Armored Division Association (www. 12tharmoredmuseum
.org/capture.asp) and read Col. Fields' article with great interest. I
also searched other sites to look for more detail and perhaps stories
by other 12th Armored Division personnel to add more detail. I was
unable to find any other information.
I looked through a number of books without results. I even
looked through the two-volume, 1,000-page books, "The Seventh
Army - Report of Operations, 1944-1945. " Col. Fields' account
appears to be the only recorded information related to the 12th
Armored Division and Wernher von Braun.
Col. Fields' complete story appears on page 175 of Volume I,
"The Hellcats''' by Ken Bradstreet, a two-volume history of the 12th
Armored Division. It was published in the late 1980s.
The Council reminds all "that no activity shall be authorized which
would conflict with the annual reunion date."
58th NATIONAL REUNION
Tuesday-Sunday, September 14-19, 2004
Ambassador Suites, Hdq. Hotel John E. Critzas, Chair
4250 Ridgemont Dr., Abilene, TX 79606 4041 Park Avenue
325-698-1234 / fax 325-698-2771 St. Louis, MO 63110
Toll free central res. 1-888-897-9644 1-800-537-1418
See Reunion Information elsewhere in the HCN for more hotel listings
SOUTHWEST CHAPTER MEETING
Tuesday-Thursday, Nov. 8-11, 2004
Jule & Marian Tervay, Chairs
Hawthorne Inn & Suites
New Braunfels, TX 78130
830-643-9300; fax 830-643-9200
5214 Dumfries Dr.
Houston, TX 77096
EASTERN CHAPTER MEETING
Friday-Sunday, May 13-15, 2005
Best Western Howard Toms, Chair
Country Cupboard Inn 428 Elizabeth Ave., Toms River, NJ 08753
Nestore Poponi, Co-Chair
132 E. Linden, Ave., Lindenwold, NJ 08021
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Col. Fields' article is as follows:
It was the morning of the 2nd of May and we had our CP in a
small Bavarian town called Benediktbueren, about 10 kilometers
north of Kochel, Germany. The morning dawned bright and clear
with about a foot of snow on the ground.
We were about to move out down the road when, slipping and
sliding down the road, came a U.S. Navy Jeep. I asked myself,
"What in hell is the Navy doing so far from the sea?" It pulled to a
stop and out hops a Navy four-striper and still on board the Jeep
was a tar all done up in a pea jacket and a white sailor's cap. I could
not believe my eyes.
This four-striper comes up to my tank and explains that he is on
a highly classified mission to find and secure a supersonic wind
tunnel someplace in the mountains behind us. He asks that I furnish
him with a battalion of tanks and a battalion of infantry to seek and
secure the tunnel and the scientists that were using it. He added that
intelligence claimed that the installation was protected by a large
force of SS troopers. Later this proved not to be the case or they
headed out when they heard us coming.
I told the four-striper that he must be out of his skull because I
did not have a force as large as he was requesting. He then dragged
out his credentials that were very impressive to say the least. I hope
he retained them since they were history in themselves.
He presented letters headed by, "To Whom It May Concern,"
above the signatures of F. D. Roosevelt, Admiral King, Gen.
George Marshall, Gen. Eisenhower, and Gen. Patch, all saying in
effect, "You are ordered to give Capt. (for the life of me I cannot
remember his name) anything he asks for or requires to cany out his
Well sir, I then told the good Captain that I could furnish him
with a platoon of tanks and a platoon of infantry for a reconnais-
sance in force. I also told him that the balance of my force was
about to move in the same direction and that we could support any
action the small reconnaissance force could not handle. He re-
quested that we delay our departure until he was either able to
(continued on page 20)
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Twelfth Armored Division Association (U.S.). Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004, newspaper, July 2004; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth410537/m1/3/?q=12th%20Armored%20Memorial%20Museum: accessed July 6, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.