90-year-old Jack Leroy Tueller, a much-decorated former fighter pilot, from Bountiful, Utah remembers an incident from WWII.
Tueller wanted to play his trumpet to relieve the stress from a horrifying war-time mission he had been forced to perform earlier the same day.
Jack Leroy Tueller was a World War II fighter pilot, flying a thousand feet above German tanks he and his fellow pilots were sent to blow up, when he spotted the patches of bright red, blue and yellow atop the drab gray-green tank that was his target.
“It was a French mother, trying to use her body to cover her three children,” Tueller, of Bountiful, recalls more than six decades later. “They were dressed in bright colors, so we would see them. They were human shields. The Germans knew American boys would not fire on innocents. There were mothers and children secured on every tank. There were 16 of us, and none of us fired.”
Tueller and his men pulled away, and he radioed the situation to his superiors. The gut-wrenching reply crackled back: Destroying the tanks was paramount, his superior said. The civilians were expendable.
Hearts pounding, the men followed orders.
“I’ve lived with that for 65 years, what 50-caliber machine guns did to those civilians,” said Tueller, 89, his voice cracking. “I grew up that day. I realized that in every war, innocent civilians are sacrificed by both sides. In killing evil, sometimes the innocents go down with the guilty. Wars are that way. In Afghanistan today, where I have a son serving, mothers are teaching children to carry bombs on their backs. War is like that.”
Tueller and other … veterans share[d] their memories in… the fifth and final episode of KUED Channel 7’s series “Utah World War II Stories.”
Hat tip to Theo Spark.