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Up Escape (2)
 
ESCAPE TO ITALY

Dr. David E. Thomas (now deceased), Medical Detachment, believed Paul Demciak's story would make a great war movie.  Here is the scenario in the doctor's words:

Among those listed as missing in action at the end of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment's 33 days involvement in the invasion of Normandy was Paul Demciak.  Paul was a staff sergeant medic, a strapping Polish-American soldier out of the Pennsylvania coal fields who jumped into Normandy with the D-Day pathfinders.

Now it was the middle of August.  We're back in Wollaton Park in the Sherwood Forest at the edge of Nottingham.  England living in tents, licking our wounds, integrating replacements, getting re-supplied and, in general, getting ready for the next chapter... the invasion of Holland. Across my desk comes a piece of paper informing me that Paul Demciak was hospitalized in Naples, Italy!

Naturally, this information blew my mind! Through the years I wondered, until 1978, when at a reunion of the 508th P.I.R, WW-II Association, who should turn up but Paul Demciak! I said, "Paul, I've wondered for years how you got from Normandy to Italy."  Said Paul, "I showed up, Major, just so I could tell you!"

In his words, "I landed in a bunch of krauts, promptly got shot in the left elbow and got taken prisoner.  I was loaded in a truck and sent to the rear.  Along came an American plane, the truck got shot up, and I got another minor wound.  Next I was shipped in a freight car.  Another American plane did an encore ... giving me another minor wound.  En route to the rear I was seen by a German doctor who wanted to amputate.  I turned that down so a wire-ladder splint was applied.  The wound got invaded by maggots.  I remembered that you had told us not to worry about maggots because they only ate dead tissue and were debriding the wound, so I let them go.  Eventually, with eight other wounded allies, I wound up away from Normandy, guarded by a couple of over-the-hill krauts no longer combat fit.  Along came the French Underground, knocked off the krauts, contacted Italy by radio and, using flashlights, guided a RAF Major into a pasture.  We were loaded aboard, taken to Naples and hospitalized! Twenty some operations later I wound up with a working arm.  I tried to enlist but was told I had too much disability so I spent a career in the Federal Civil Service."

This scenario would make a great war movie.  I tried to attract attention to the story without results.  So be it.  One can never underestimate the steadfastness and courage of the American G.I.

* * * * * * * * * *

[Jumpmaster Note: Paul Demciak appears on our list of those who received the Bronze Star for their exploits.  Of greatest interest, however, is the fact that he was among those in the 1st Battalion pictured prior to boarding Plane 16 on the eve of the Normandy invasion.  See our Photo Gallery - D-Day Mission Prep at Nottingham.]

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