The reference to the jubilarian came from florida: "walter schramm, a friend of ours, will die on the 10th anniversary of his death. May 90 years old, wrote heidrun tommasi and sam hamontree to the coburger tageblatt. The overview of schramm’s curriculum vitae they gave aroused curiosity: at the age of 15, the german was captured by the russians and later found work with the american military in bamberg. With the help of an officer, he came to the U.S. In 1953, where he became a helicopter pilot. Two tours of duty in vietnam brought him high honors.
This is how it all began
"Yes, that’s all true", schramm confirmed on request last thursday. His life story, which the rustic war veteran then describes in a personal interview lasting over 90 minutes, was to last for two lifetimes. Born in 1930 in bautzen, saxony, schramm experienced the consequences of the bombing of dresden firsthand as a 14-year-old in 1945. "A shock, so schramm. From school, the young man was assigned to disaster service and suffered from fume poisoning. After the end of the siege of his hometown by the russians, he and many of his peers were integrated into the volkssturm. "At 14, they put us in barracks, trained us on infantry weapons and showed us how to push on tanks", he describes and adds: "today’s youth can’t even imagine that." The atrocities he himself experienced on children were to be increased when, on 19. He was taken prisoner by the russians on april 1945, had to march to sagan in silesia and was interned in the camp there. Even today, he can still hear the screams of the officers who were harassed there by former concentration camp prisoners. "I’m sometimes surprised that all the things I’ve experienced haven’t left me with any lasting damage.", says schramm looking back.
Now it goes to the USA
One reason is probably that as an under 16 year old he is released after half a year. Because he no longer wanted to know anything about the russians – due to the cruelties he had experienced – the young man came to live with a family friend in bamberg in the fall of 1945. His father had already been killed in 1941, his mother had disappeared. It was not until 1947 that he was to meet her again in bitterfeld (saxony-anhalt). The daughter of his host family got schramm a job as a cake helper in the american army. But the young man wanted more: he learned to drive a jeep and rose through the ranks of the fleet, first to assistant, then to interpreter and technical employee. Schramm revealed his dream job to a U.S. Major with whom he became friends: pilot. "There will be no more of them in germany" he gave him the answer.
He is going to the war in korea
But the american and his wife had taken a liking to the young german, not only sponsoring his trip to the u.S., but also placing him with a "substitute family" in wisconsin. Arrived there in the fall of 1953, schramm was considered burgert after half a year. The disadvantage: he was drafted for the korean war. "I had been able to refuse, since I was not a citizen of the state, but because of my privileges I thought it only fair to fulfill my duties as well", he says. After his basic pioneer training, five months of deployment in korea and stationing in japan, schramm had completed his military service. Then his sponsor helped him to the longed-for pilot training (18 months). The family gave the necessary money to their son, whom they always called "junior named, before. He later paid it all back. Through a division in kentucky, the now 30-year-old received a marching order to germany in 1960. He was stationed there with the army aviation battalion until 1964, when he learned to repair helicopters in alabama.
The next war: vietnam
The vietnam war broke out in 1965. "I was one of the first to be transferred there with his division", reports schramm. When he returns a year later, he has completed 1300 hours of flight time. Including spectacular missions to supply troops in the jungle and rescue comrades including the most seriously injured after the bloody battle in the ia-drang-valley. The pilot went into the thick of the fighting seven times. In the book "we were soldiers once…And young by lieutenant general a. D. Harold G. Moore and war correspondent joseph L. Galloway on this first rough battle is mentioned by name schramm. In 2002, director randall wallace made the incident public with mel gibson in "we were heroes" filmed. "Except for the end, that’s exactly how it happened.", schramm affirms. His selfless service earned him the "silver star medal a, the third highest award of the u.S. Army for valor. Also for the "medal of honor is the staff captain a.D. Still proposed. As in 2006, when the then 75-year-old received the silver star in hanau, he emphasizes that he accepted the honor with pride and on behalf of his entire crew. He was at the mercy of the pilots’ decisions "and we were constantly in combat with the north vietnamese!" Before that, schramm had already received the airman’s cross of honor and the airman’s medal with 13 honorary degrees, the latter for his evacuation of 20 comrades from the bon son mountains, during his second vietnam mission in 1968. People who have faced death together have a very special bond, said schramm in his acceptance speech. 1997 he was awarded the "iron soldier" award awarded.
Next home: hanau
Between his vietnam missions and afterwards, the pilot was stationed in hanau, most recently with the 3rd air force until 1974. US armored division in erlensee. Schramm: "the police president asked for me because he wanted someone who knew the language and customs of the germans." 1974 he retired after 20 years of military service, because a third tour to vietnam was imminent. "I didn’t want to tempt fate too often", he reasons. After all, the helicopter pilot was shot down once and forced to make an emergency landing once. Schramm continued flying in civilian clothes for another 20 years, as chief pilot and flight operations manager for a company in bad homburg. An activity that took him as far as kenya, nigeria and egypt. 1974 was also the year when a friend from bamberger days took him to the heilgersdorfer kirchweih. It was there that staff captain a.D. Knowing his wife ingrid. After the wedding the couple lived in hanau. Ingrid schramm taught schoolchildren in frankfurt from then on. The couple has no children together; schramm’s three daughters from his first marriage live in the U.S. 1995 the couple moved to heilgersdorf. Shortly before, the 75-year-old had had to give up flying for reasons of age and health. With a heavy heart, after 16.000 hours at the controls. "I still see myself up there", he still confesses 15 years later.
Now 90, galloway describes his experiences seamlessly.
Still really fit at 90
Mentally, the former pilot keeps to himself.A. As members of the coburg masonic lodge, fit, physically by (mountain) hiking and playing golf at the golf club schloss tambach. Ingrid and walter schramm are very fond of exercise in the fresh air. The couple also enjoys traveling. In florida, where his former comrade sam hamontree lives, the schramms met heidrun tommasi, a native of wurzburg, on the golf course. Together, all four originally wanted his 90th birthday. Celebrating in hawaii until the corona crisis thwarted these plans as well as the smaller solution of spending the day in weimar or the planned party. But in his long life, the jubilarian has learned to adapt to new circumstances again and again. "Then I’ll postpone the celebration until the next round!", he says with a wink. "Quite happy" his life has been a success, says the 90-year-old looking back. Circumstances, friends or acquaintances had always opened new doors for him. And it is also plagued by many a "tweak", schramm is satisfied. His only wish: "to stay healthy!"