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“All of our crew survived:” Two Milwaukee men share their clear memories of VE Day

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Friday, May 8th is the 70th anniversary of VE Day -- as in "Victory in Europe" in World War II. It was on that date that Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces. For most of us, that surrender is something we read about in books or saw in a movie. But others were part of that history in the making.

Two men in particular were airmen then -- and remember VE Day well. Douglas Holt joined the Army Air Corps right after graduating from Washington High School in Milwaukee. At 5'4" and 115 pounds, he fell short of the requirements, but a doctor fudged his weight.

Douglas Holt

Douglas Holt

"All of our crew survived. All of us got it by pieces of flak. None of us wounded. We never got a Purple Heart," said Holt.

The crew named their aircraft "Lucky Dog," which is what Holt titled his book, available on Kindle. Holt says sometimes they'd fly their B-17 with one engine, no brakes or electrical system.

"And every of the 35 missions. Every one of them, we got back to the base in England," said Holt.

Thomas Wilson calls that a miracle. His B-25 was shot down and his crew captured in Tunisia on his seventh mission. They were taken to a German prison camp for two years.

"The guy that interrogated me, a German Air Force Major, actually lived in Minneapolis most of his life. He spoke better English than I did (laughs)," said Wilson.

The Germans actually treated the airmen better than the other prisoners.

"Much better. I call it kind of an honor amongst thieves," said Wilson.

Thomas Wilson

Thomas Wilson

Wilson says General Patton's 14th Armored Division arrived just before May 8th and liberated Wilson and the other prisoners. Patton arrived the next day with a lot of pomp and circumstance.

"And made a big show about coming in and liberating us. Of course, all the work had been done by his tank division," said Wilson.

There aren't many left who really remember what this era was like.

"You just never forget those moments," said Holt.

The World War II members of Holt, who is 90, and WIlson, who turns 95 next week, are still quite vivid for them. Fortunately for us, they're great storytellers too.

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