Date of Interview
Simon Velasquez was born on 24 January 1920 in Dolores, Texas, one of fourteen children of immigrant Mexican parents. His family moved to Lovell, Wyoming, when Simon was a child, and here he graduated from high school in 1940. He then lived some months in St. Paul, Minnesota before being drafted into the Army Air Corps in January 1942. Simon completed Basic Training and gunnery school, and was made a ball turret gunner on B-XVII Flying Fortress bombers. He was posted overseas in late 1943, joining the 379th Bomb Group, of the 8th Air Force, in England; he flew his first mission in November 1943. Over the next five months Simon completed twenty-six missions, flying with the 379th, 305th, and 384th Bomb Groups. On his twenty-seventh mission, on 13 April 1944, his B-XVII was shot down over Schweinfurt, Germany; Simon was one of two crew members who survived. Simon was sent to Stalag XVII-B, in Krems, Austria, where he remained until the warï¿½s final weeks. As the Russians approached, prisoners were evacuated by the Germans, and thus Simon was walking with other POWs when liberated by the Russians on 3 May 1945. He spent time in several medical facilities before being discharged in December 1945 with the rank of staff sergeant. Again a civilian, Simon returned to St. Paul, Minnesota, got married (1947, wife Beatrice) and raised a family, and worked in the auto mechanic business. He worked thirty-eight years for Southview Chevrolet before retiring in 1985.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Simon Velazquez" (2003). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 79.