Heroes: the Army



"...We got about even with the trench when a German opened up with a Schmeiser gun. He hit the lieutenant all up his side and Pvt. Mirman was hit in the heel. The rest of us fell into a couple of slit trenches at the side of the road..."



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 Joseph J. Parayos

  • Branch of Service: Army
  • Unit: HQ Co., 406th Regiment,
    102nd Infantry Division
  • Dates: 1942 - 1945
  • Location: European Theater
  • Rank: Sgt.
  • Birth Year: 1923
  • Entered Service: Brainards, NJ


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Since this article in a 406 Newsletter from '45 mentioned our friend Joe Parayos we asked him to add his story. Here it is...


My P.O.W. Experience

by Sgt Joseph Parayos


     Lieut Jack Tomlin, myself, Cpl. Al Hansel, Privates Mirman, Tobin and Bloodgood went on a daylight patrol on the afternoon of January 29, 1945. We left north of Linnich, crossing a bridge over the Roer and went up a dirt road through the woods.

     We could see the town of Hilfarth about a quarter of a mile away. Halfway there was a trench near the road with German soldiers moving around. I told the Lieut. they were Germans, but he said "No, they are Americans." Our assignment was to find out if there were Germans in the town.

     We got about even with the trench when a German opened up with a Schmeiser gun. He hit the lieutenant all up his side and Pvt. Mirman was hit in the heel. The rest of us fell into a couple of s!it trenches at the side of the road. We fired back. i had a bullet glance off my helmet. There was nowhere to go because it was a bare field behind us. We had to give up so we could see how badly the lieutenant and Mirman were hurt.

     The Germans came and picked up the lieutenant and carried him to town (Hilfarth). They put Mirman and the lieutenant in a vehicle and took them for treatment. They locked the rest of us in a shed. The next morning they opened the shed and called me out. The German sergeant told me that Lt. Tomlin had died on the way to the hospital. That night they took us back for more questions. As we were passing through a crossroad, shells fell near the road. I thought, "Here I am alive. Is my own artillery going to get me?" We got by safely.

     After further questions, they started us on the way to Dusseldorf. We walked most of the way, but we did get an occasional ride on a wagon or a truck.

     We got to the Rhine and a bridge at Dusseldorf. The guard took us into an underground air raid shelter. The B17s and 24s looked like flocks of crows flying overhead. I think we went down about 30 steps to a big underground room. After the all-dear signal we came up and walked several blocks to where they put us in an underground room.

     The next morning the guard came into the room and said to me "Come". He took me to the office of the guy in charge. The first thing he said to me was Germany had lost the war. "It can't last more than three or four months," He came real close to that statement.

     That afternoon they took us to the railroad station and put us on a train. When the train got to Essen there was an air raid going on. They took everybody off and put us in a shelter at the station. They put us back on the train to Stalag 11B, near Hannover.

     When the British were closing in from the west and the Russians from the east, they took all NCOs out of camp. They marched us around the country to keep us out of the hands of the Allies. They put us up in big barns at night. We were in a farm yard having lunch when the German guard came to Hansel and me and told us that F.D.R. had died April 14th. That night we were walking along a dirt road. I watched the sun set. I told Al and the two others we always were with that if we took off in the direction the sun had set we would meet up with the British. They agreed and we took off as the guard stood and watched us go.

     The second day our food ran out but we found potatoes in a field. We filled our pockets and ate them raw as we walked. About the 18th or 19th of April we came to some fenced in pine trees. I told the men we could go a short distance into the trees and make a fire to bake the potatoes. The potatoes were about half baked when I heard a noise behind me. I looked back and there was a German and a soldier with a rifle. The officer said "Come" and he led us into the woods. A short distance away we came to a major and about 25 more German soldiers. The major spoke good English and told us they wanted to live so they were hiding also. They gave us some little sausages to eat.

     That evening the major led us about 200 yards or so to a gate and out on the road. He turned to us and pointed down the road. He said "Go down this road and you will meet the British." The next day we met the British. They took us to Celle, Belgium

     Recovered Allied Military Personnel Headquarters. On the 23rd of April they put us on a plane to Holland and then on another to England.

     We were taken to a U.S. hospital near Oxford, England. There they fed us British style. You could eat six times a day if you wanted. After 16 days at the hospital! had gained back about 20 pounds. May 19 we set sail aboard the SS John Ericson; arriving the 29th and met our wives at Atlantic City on August 1.



     ----- Joseph Parayos




(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)


Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...

United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division

102 Infantry Division

History of the 102nd Infantry Division

Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944

Gardelegen War Crime

image of NEWGardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn

American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll

National World War II Memorial




The above story, "My P.O.W. Experience", by Joseph Parayos, HQ Co., 406th, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 53, No. 3, Jan/Mar., 2001, pp. 5.

The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.

We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.


Original Story submitted on 25 March 2005.
Story added to website on 26 March 2005.


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