wound up in a room with a German officer who stopped his
interrogation at one point to say: "Haven't we met before?"
It seems the German had been attending Virginia Military Institute
in 1936 and was at a barbecue with Browning
following a VMI football game against the University of South Carolina
The German didn't just remember Browning
looked at my name on his
papers and asked how Miss Tommie Thompson was," Browning
said Friday."I told him I had no idea how she
was and had indeed lost touch after graduation."
It was something a Hollywood scriptwriter might dream up, but it was a real-life drama.Browning's
crippled B-17 had landed safely in a field after two engines died because of mechanical problems.
The belly landing was perfect and the crew made sure they destroyed the secret Norden bombsight before the Nazis could get their hands on it.Browning
at first was protected by a Dutch family and given clothes to wear.He
was captured at a German roadblock a few days later.His
trousers turned out to be too large, and that created a problem for him when he
approached the roadblock and was told to raise his
arms as ordered.His
pants fell to the ground.He
wasn't a bit embarrassed.
"It was my last defiance of the Third Reich," he
said with a smile, remembering how exposure of his
long johns must have been quite a sight for the German troops.
It wasn't long before Browning
was interrogated by the officer who remembered him from that Kappa Alpha barbecue eight years before in South Carolina.
When the questioning ended, Browning
was in a cattle car on his
way to the Baltic Sea and Stalag Luft I which would be his
home for 15 months before Russian troops liberated the camp.He
said the commandant of the camp told him and other new arrivals that "For you, the war is over."
"Despite several escape attempts and time for reflection in the 'cooler,' it proved to be true," said Browning
15-month imprisonment.Browning retired from the Air Force in 1973 as a full colonel after serving during the Korean and Vietnam wars.Browning
, whose 90th birthday is next Wednesday, will be honored at a party today at the Young House from 2 to 4 p.m. Invitations have been sent to more than 100 friends, relatives and acquaintences.
returned home from the war, Browning
rarely talked about his
POW experiences.Doty Browning, his
wife of 50 years, kept his
memorabilia and other records detailing his
World War II veteran George Browning
sits with a replica bomber jacket in his
lap as he
talks about his
POW experiences in the war.