By Jennifer Gallus
World War II Army Airforce veteran Loren Zander of Howard Lake will recount those days leading to the war, as he lived them, as well as his experiences as a bomber airpilot in the war at an upcoming event.
The Friends of the Howard Lake Library is sponsoring Zander’s appearance Sunday, Sept. 14 at St. James Lutheran School, as well as a “bus-eum” (a museum in a bus) about German POWs in the heartland.
Zander will speak at 2 p.m. and plans to give a brief history of events leading up to the war, how an airplane works including facts about the B-29 bomber he piloted, and will share his service experiences.
The 86-year-old veteran even remembers hearing Hitler speak on the radio.
“Of course, I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but my folks would interpret the German for me,” Zander said.
Zander started out as an air pilot in the Army Air Force and then became an aircraft commander.
He was a member of the 875th Bomb Squadron of the 498th Bomb Group, part of the 73rd wing of the 20th Air Force.
“I kept in touch with a few of the guys over the years, but I think I’m now the only one left from the squadron,” Zander said.
The bomb squadron was based in Saipan, and they would fly about seven hours over water to Japan where they would drop up to 40 bombs before returning another seven hours back to base.
“We often didn’t take 40 bombs with us because we needed extra room for fuel for the 15 hour flight,” Zander explained.
Box lunches were prepared for the crew, and the Red Cross often greeted the returning crews with coffee and treats, Zander recalled.
Zander’s first mission was Oct. 20, 1944 and his last was July 26, 1945. He has told his story a couple of times to school groups and is eager to share this history at the upcoming event.
He will bring relics and souvenirs from his overseas experience and will be open to questions.
The “bus-eum” portion of the event runs from 3 to 6 p.m., and involves a bus that has been converted into an exhibit about the WW II German prisoners held in the Midwest from 1943 to 1946.
The exhibit is a production of Traces, and features 15 display panels with photographs and documents. A 21-seat theater is also on-board for participants to view a movie about the subject.
The bus will be parked by the St. James School, located at 1000 6th Ave. in Howard Lake. This is an open house style exhibit.
Refreshments will be served.
For more information, go to www.hjorgs.com/hl-libraryfriends/ or call the library at (320) 543-2020.