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This profile was last updated on 5/29/10  and contains information from public web pages.

Hitler Youth organization
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BANGOR, Maine - Henry Welzel ..., 29 May 2010 [cached]
BANGOR, Maine - Henry Welzel suffered a stroke in 1998 that affected his short- to medium-term memory, but ask him to recall his military career in the 1940s and 1950s, and the details roll off his tongue.
And oh, the details.
Welzel, now 84 and living in Freeport, will tell his story at the Memorial Day commemoration service held Monday at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.
It begins in 1926 in Ohio, where Welzel was born to German immigrant parents who moved the family back to their homeland when he was still a boy.
In Germany in the late 1930s, Welzel joined the Hitler Youth organization even though he wasn't sold on the beliefs of the German dictator.
"As a teenage male, you didn't really have a choice," he said recently in an interview.
Welzel trained for several years to be a soldier for Germany and, at age 17 in 1943, was first deployed.
"I was the only medic assigned to a company of about 300 people," he said.
Welzel didn't stay in Virginia long. He and many other prisoners of war were transferred to Fort Rucker in Alabama. He stayed about one year.
"There were still some serious Nazis there," he said. "I was scum to them."
After the war ended, the U.S. instituted the Marshal Plan to rebuild a Western Europe devastated by combat. Welzel was sent back overseas in 1948, this time to France. He remembers that time fondly. Even though he was still technically a prisoner, he felt free.
Unfortunately, he also was alone.
With family still in Germany, Welzel left his assignment in France without authorization and planned to visit his parents.
He never got there.
At the border of France and Germany were Russian soldiers stopping everyone who wanted to get in. That included Welzel. They searched his bag.
"I had cigarettes, soap and [girlie] magazines," he said. "They took the magazines."
Welzel found himself in captivity again, this time by the Russians.
"They tried to indoctrinate us to become communists and told us how bad Americans were," he said. "But I was an American."
After another six months held captive in East Germany, Welzel tried again to flee and visit his family. This time, he was successful.
His family stayed in Germany, but Welzel knew he wasn't safe there. He safely made his way to an American embassy and was sent back to his birth country. This time, he was no longer a prisoner.
Welzel was back in the United States for less than two years before he was drafted into the Army and sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He was bound for Korea in 1951 and served as a medic at U.S. headquarters in Seoul. This deployment was tame by Welzel's standards. He said the worst thing that happened to him was frostbite.
He returned to the U.S. for good in early 1953.
Welzel had married his wife in 1950 before his tour in Korea. Once Welzel returned to the U.S., he started a family and a new life. He worked in Massachusetts for many years, but always had a camp in Washington, Maine. In 1981, his family moved to Maine full time. He continued to work and eventually retired from Bath Iron Works.
Over the years, his military background faded into the background. The Bronze Star and other accolades he earned were the only reminders. And his memory.
He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for a time but now is comfortable talking about his service. He often meets with other veterans and participates in historical discussions.
When Galen Cole invited Welzel to speak on Memorial Day, Welzel was honored.
Hank Welzel was 16 when the ... [cached]
Hank Welzel was 16 when the Wehrmacht drafted him in 1942
On Veterans Day this year, NPR's All Things Considered aired my story about Hank Welzel, a sharp 84-year-old who lives with his wife in Freeport, Maine.
Hank was born in Ohio in 1926, but moved with his family to Germany when he was two years old. He grew up under the Nazi regime and served in the German Army during WWII. After the war, he returned to the United States and then served in the U.S. Army on the front lines of Korea.
Hank's is a unique story about national identity and personal redemption.
NPR's All Things Considered: "A Veteran's ... [cached]
NPR's All Things Considered: "A Veteran's Journey from the Hitler Youth to the U.S. Army" - A profile of Hank Welzel, a veteran who served in the German Army in World War Two and the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Every veteran has a story, but ..., 11 Nov 2010 [cached]
Every veteran has a story, but Hank Welzel's is an unusual one: Years before he joined the U.S. Army and served in Korea, Welzel, an American citizen, served in the German army during World War II.
When Welzel was 2 years old, his father got a job that took the family from Ohio back to Germany, where they had emigrated from before the war.
Henry Welzel made the drive to ..., 3 June 2010 [cached]
Henry Welzel made the drive to Bangor from his Freeport home early on Memorial Day to tell his story to a group that consisted of nearly 500 veterans.
Welzel was born in the United States but moved to Germany when he was only 2. He was forced into the Nazi army when he was 16 and served as a medic during World War II. "You know everything happened to me when I was real young," says Welzel, "I was in the German army when I was under 17 and I was captured before I was 18."
Lucky for him he was captured by the American army. Since he was still an American citizen he was returned to the US on Thanksgiving day 1949. Shortly after that he tried enlisting in the United States Marine Corps and after a short wait he was back on the battlefield. This time fighting with the red, white, and blue. "I volunteered for Korea and within 3 months I was on the frontline three days before christmas in '51 in the 45th division."
Welzel served for 21 months in Korea earning a bronze star and a purple heart. He says there's quite a difference between life in the u-s and german military. "The food is better for one thing. Supplies were better."
Welzel says he's happy to have the chance to tell his story to Veterans on Memorial Day.
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