American POWs of World War II: Forgotten Men Tell Their Stories

By Tom Bird | Go to book overview

Mario Garbin

Although Mario Garbin's internment was relatively short (five months), it was extremely severe nonetheless. For by the date of his capture, the Germans were running out of food, ideas, and patience, and the POWs became more of a nuisance than ever. In an effort to protect the POWs, then use them for barter, the POWs were at time marched, often without food, from dawn to dusk. During his imprisonment, Mario dropped from 195 pounds to 129, and he was considered one of the luckier ones. His story picks up a few days after his company had been overrun by the Germans.

Mario was one of the more fortunate POWs who put to use in his later life what he learned from his incarceration. At present, he is retired from was twenty years' service with the Chrysler Corporation, where he was a high-ranking vice president within the company, reporting directly only to the chairman of the board. Although powerful and charismatic, he still cried uncontrollably during one portion of the interview and had to pause several times to keep his composure in other portions. A copy of a story written by Mario, titled, "Christmas Story, "which he feels most appropriately depicts his frame of mind during this time, is included in Appendix C.

A battalion motor pool had blocked the roadway up the hill with their trucks to prevent German tanks and armed vehicles from moving in to attack our troops. Sure enough, we went in there and here these guys came up to us and said, "What the hell is happening?." They'd been there two or three days. The Germans had just gone around them, leaving them in one of those little pockets they were so famous for. It was Blitzkrieg.

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