World War II veteran recounts experiences

By Dan Martynowicz

Donald Schoo was drafted into the United States Army in April 1943. Six years later, he had accumulated two dozen medals, survived D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, worked with the French Underground, met General George Patton and liberated a German concentration camp.

The Private First Class now shares his inspirational stories in 25 to 35 speaking events per year. His audiences range from boy scouts to universities. At 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., Schoo will recount his experiences in a presentation titled, “World War II: As I Saw it.”

The Northern Star sat down with Schoo as he shared his worst battle, favorite memory and advice for people who may want to join thE armed forces.

Northern Star: What was the worst battle you were in?

Donald Schoo: Well, I was at Normandy for D-Day, but the Battle of the Bulge was worse.

NS: Worse how?

DS: We weren’t just fighting the Germans, we were fighting the weather. It was snowing and 18 to 20 degrees below zero. We had summer clothing on – no heavy socks or underwear – we damn near froze to death. Eisenhower thought the war would be over before Christmas. He misjudged in that regard.

NS: What was your favorite memory?

DS: Getting the hell out of the Army! No, I guess it was the day we liberated the concentration camp. I helped open the gates on April 11, 1945. I got a medal for that.

NS: Least favorite?

DS: Crossing the Moselle River. I lost most of my crew, some guys that were with me for a long time, I think that was the worst one.

NS: Do you have any favorite stories about friends during the war?

DS: After a while, you try not to get too friendly with anyone because they’re here today and gone tomorrow. Right after Normandy, our own soldiers kept getting killed and it hurt terrible, If you didn’t know the new men coming in, it didn’t feel so bad when they got killed.

NS: Of your 12 medals, what was your favorite?

DS: The French Medal of Honor. That was because I worked a little with the French Underground, I got it from the president of France. Jacques Chirac. Don’t ask me to spell it.

NS: You served in General George Patton’s third army, what was your impression of him?

DS: One day I’d love him, the next I’d hate him. I wish we had some generals like him today, he was a true soldier. That’s what’s wrong with the army today, damn generals don’t know what they’re doing. Old Patton was one of

the best.

NS: Can you give any advice to young people wanting to join the armed services?

DS: Go ahead! [It’s] one of the best organizations in the world. If they turn it over to the sergeants and let them run it. I think the generals are a bunch of nuts; I’m not impressed with them. I don’t mean that to look bad on the army because they’re the best military.

In the military and in combat, everybody is buddy-buddy, comrades. You’re friends today and tomorrow because you may have to save his life today and he’ll save yours tomorrow.