Travis Moore

Travis Moore was the top turret gunner and flight engineer that was downed by ground fire in World War II.

MINDEN, La -- His bomber was going down. And if Travis Moore and the crew survived a rough landing, what lied ahead was going to be rough, too.

The World War II veteran and former prisoner of war told us how he survived it all.

Travis was the top turret gunner on a B-17. It was hit by Nazi anti-aircraft ground fire over Germany. He says they lost three engines and turned back for base. But the Bavarian Alps rose in their way.

"Now, trying to climb that with one engine? You're against an obstacle, my friend," Travis said with a bit of a laugh.

The pilot ditched. And German forces found the surviving crew in a field.

"They were there waiting. And they met me just as carefully as they could. "But I didn't have any machine gun on me. I didn't have any rifles on me. I wasn't even carrying a pistol, Travis said, bowing his head.

Travis says their captors would have their own problem when their truck broke down. So they had orders for Travis since he was also the crew's flight engineer.

"One of those Germans got his rifle and he pointed at me. I felt that bayonet in my back and it was so sharp, I could feel it cutting the canvas in the center of my back. He just pointed at that motor and said, 'Fix!'" Travis said.

"I wasn't trying to aid the Germans. I was trying to get that truck on up over the mountain," he said, adding that he wanted to survive along with the rest.

Travis says they had already seen Nazi atrocities -- the remains of prisoners and Jewish holocaust victims at a train station.

On fixing the truck's engine, Moore said, "I'm alive now or I'd be in that boxcar of dead bodies."

Travis says the prison camp was awful. He nearly starved, fed only one bowl of cabbage soup a day, until they were liberated by Patton's Army.

"I feel fortunate in having learned some of things that were necessary not only to my survival but to my crew's survival. Not to my survival, but to my country's welfare."

Travis is now 97. Some of his years after the war were spent as a gunsmith at his home near Minden.

He hopes to attend the National POW MIA Remembrance Day Ceremony at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center on Friday at 10 a.m. Maybe you can, too. The guest speaker will be Ron Chatelain, the retired Army Major who is Louisiana's most decorated surviving veteran.

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