Date of Interview
William Schleppegrell was born 3 September 1923 in Minneapolis; from age seven, he grew up in the small town of Littlefork, in far northern Minnesota. Bill graduated from Littlefork High School in 1940, and in December 1942 enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. He completed training as a fighter pilot. By November 1944 Bill was in eastern France with the 405th Squadron, 371st Fighter Group, part of the 9th Air Force, flying ground attack missions in P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft. He completed sixteen missions during November and December 1944. While flying a mission on 1 January 1945, Bill's plane was hit by ground fire and he was forced to parachute out over German-occupied territory. He was taken prisoner after landing, and spent the remainder of the war as a POW. After initial interrogation at the central Dulag Luft facility, Bill was transported to Stalag Luft I, at Barth in northern Germany. He remained here until the camp was liberated by advancing Red Army troop on 30 April 1945. American forces evacuated US troops from Barth in the first weeks of May 1945. Bill was flown to France, then transported to the United States. He was discharged in November 1945. Again a civilian, Bill used GI Bill benefits and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1948. He was married in 1948 (wife Norma), and helped to raise a family of eight children. Bill taught German for more than thirty years at Hibbing High School, retiring in 1984. While a teacher, Bill for many years ran a student exchange program to Germany, helping to build cultural bridges.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Bill Schleppegrell" (2005). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 68.