SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – CBS13 spoke to a real, local American hero who reflected on his military service during WWII and talked about his family that’s still working to protect our country.
Al Roehr was just a teenager when he volunteered for world war two, later becoming a prisoner of war and a recipient of the bronze star. He says he was just 18 in 1943 when he volunteered to take on the Nazis.
At the time, Germany was getting pounded by the US and its allies, and Roehr was in the 513th Parachute Infantry. He says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Well it was new for me because I’d never been in an airplane before,” said Roehr.
His unit’s mission was to travel behind enemy lines and sniff out Nazis.
“We were attacking the Germans in a mountainous, hilly forest,” he said.
In 1945, they ran into more than they bargained for.
“The Germans came out with tanks and pinned us down,” he said.
His unit was overrun.
“Actually there were five tanks there,” he said.
He lost many friends that day.
“We surrendered then because it was hopeless,” he said.
Roehr and two fellow soldiers were captured.
“We were kind of leery about surrendering because they might shoot you but they didn’t,” he said.
He was given little to eat.
“And they did interrogate us,” he said.
Within four months, British soldiers came to the rescue.
“Oh, that was wonderful. That was unbelievable,” he said.
The POWs were set free.
Roehr continued his military career by serving during the Korean War
At the age of 90, he still holds onto family memories, especially of Donna, his wife of 60 years. She passed away a couple of years ago.
A lot of his family is gone, but the one family dear to his heart are today’s wounded warriors returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It’s so pitiful that guys on television are badly crippled you know,” he said.
Roehr still has a lot of immediate family to help him get around, including his grandson and twin daughters.