The German POWs

When I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents and our family of four boys and one girl lived on a peanut and tobacco farm near Scotland Neck. German prisoners of war, captured by American forces in WWII, were brought to the U.S. to keep them from escaping and rejoining the German forces. The German POWs were spread around the South in small camps and used as farm laborers.

My dad would drive into town and come back with a pickup load of five or six prisoners (and a guard) who would work all day shaking and stacking the peanut vines so they would be dry enough to be harvested with a thresher.

One of the prisoners was a big, friendly guy named Hans. He was my favorite because he always wore a red kerchief around his neck and tried to talk to me. The prisoners' English was limited but they could all say, "Pepsi Cola."

All my life I have wished that my parents had kept the names and addresses of the German POWs. They didn't get too friendly, however, because my oldest brother, Byron Lee, was at the time a POW in a Philippine (Japanese) camp on Mindanao.

Dan C. Johnson, West Jefferson, Blue Ridge Electric

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