Date of Interview
Vernon Bigalke was born 18 February 1917 in Little Falls, Minnesota; he grew up and graduated from high school there. He served in the National Guard, 1938-40, and in April 1941 was drafted into the US Army. By the beginning of 1945, Vernon was a platoon sergeant with the 259th Regiment, 65th Infantry Division. With two dozen other soldiers, he was taken prisoner by German forces at the beginning of February 1945, following a skirmish near the French-German border. After capture, for several months Vernon was marched together with other POWs throughout central and southern Germany; he never spent time in a permanent POW camp. This group of men was finally liberated by the American 12th Armored Regiment on 29 April 1945. Vernon spent time in military medical facilities recovering from his months as a POW. He was discharged from the Army in November 1945. Again a civilian, Vernon got married in 1948 (wife Betty), and for thirty-two years was a farmer outside of Little Falls, Minnesota. He spent eight years working at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, before retiring in 1985. For many years Vernon was active in leadership roles with the American Ex-POWs organization. He was interviewed at his home in Little Falls.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Vernon Bigalke" (2004). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 6.