John Busse of Venice, Fla. celebrated his 101st birthday at Venice Post 8118 VFW a couple of days ago. He served with Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II. John was a member of the 16th Armored Division that began its march across the continent in France, went on through Belgium, Germany, Poland, and ended up in Czechoslovakia.
He and the 16th hit the beaches of Normandy in August 1944. They pushed the Germans back to their fatherland. John was a sergeant assigned to an armored scout car that proceeded his armored unit during the fighting.
At 100-plus most of what he did as a young soldier in the 3rd Army during World War II is a blur, but there are two instances he recalls.
They were somewhere in Germany with Czechoslovakia ahead of his armored unit. Dan, a friend of John’s, picks up his story from there:
“John was in the scout-car on his way to a concentration camp when he went around a corner and ran into a German major and a company of German soldiers. No shots were fired. John demanded that the major and his men surrender to him and his buddy in the armored car.
“The major replied: ’There are two of you and there are 250 of us.’
“John gave him a choice: ‘You can surrender to me or the Russians are two miles behind us and you can surrender to them!’
John Busse holds a German Walther P-38 pistol and holster he took off a Welmaracht officer he captured. The 9mm pistol is his favorite war souvenir. Sun photo by Mary Auenson
The German major handed over his Walther P-38 pistol to him together with its holster. John told the officer to get his men into formation. At that point they marched the German POWs toward the 16th Armored Division’s front line. John and his buddy followed behind the surrendering Germans in their armored-car.
It wasn’t too long after that, John and his unit reached Czechoslovakia and a German
concentration camp, he can’t remember what the camp was called.
“I came up on three German soldiers about to execute a bunch of Jews. I killed three of them with the machine gun on my armored-car and saved the lives of 100 Jewish men and women.
“The only other thing I recall, we came upon the Russians in Czechoslovakia and we had a party out in the open with them. The Russians supplied the vodka.”
Dan added: “John served with the Occupation Forces until 1946 in Europe and was discharged from the Army back in the USA. He went to work for John Deere Tractor Company as a motivational speaker. He held the job for decades.”
At some point he and his late wife, Josefine, moved to Venice in 1980. They had two sons: Jim and Charles.
John has a “cold one” every afternoon at VFW Post 8118 Venice, Fla. The beer and the lack of stress is what’s kept him going all these years. Sun photo by Mary Auenson
At 101 John still drives, but only around town — to and from the VFW to get his daily beer at 3 p.m. and the grocery store. He takes one pill a day and contends the lack of stress is
what’s has kept him alive all these years.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, July 8, 2019, and is republished with permission.
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