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Dec 7, 2020

John Sweren of Mesa, Arizona, was a tail gunner on a B-26 Marauder in World War II. On July 28, 1944, while on his 58th mission, his bomber took a direct hit of flak and the tail section broke off with John in it. He survived to become a POW.

John suggested the name Hitch Hiker for his B-26 and the crew approved. The nose art shows a woman modeled after Betty Grable with her thumb out and her skirt pulled up. On the ground is a suitcase with "TNT" painted on its side. Today there is a memorial to the Hitch Hiker in the village of Fierville-Bray in Normandy.

In this episode, John talks about some of his missions, the two German fighter planes he shot down, his experiences as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft IV and the march across Germany in weather so cold that one night his eyelids froze shut.

I left out a portion of the interview between Part 1 and Part 2 and might add it later on or post it separately for anyone interested in hearing it. In it, John talks about growing up in the Great Depression, and about falling in love -- with a car.

My full interview with John is available at Amazon with the title "Merry Christmas in July" both in print and for Kindle. The full audio is available on eBay and in the online store at along with two other POW interviews under the title "March Madness."

John Sweren and his wife, BobbiJohn Sweren and his wife, Bobbi, at the 2005 dedication of the Hitch Hiker monument in Fierville-Bray, France.

French historian Henri Levaufre, his son, Christian Levaufre, and Henri's wife, Jeanette with John.

cover of Merry Christmas in JulyMerry Christmas in July, available in print and for Kindle at Amazon

For more information:

War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It