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Real Hero  

Marvin H. Mischnick did not look like a hero.  He was wrinkled, hard of hearing and in need of a shave. Understandable for a man at the unlikely age of 99. As I sat in his living room, his World War 2 stories oozed out.

“I was a photographer for division headquarters, G2 Intelligence section. We were advancing in the city of Cologne, Germany.  Our general wanted to know if the bridges over the Rhine River would support our troops and equipment.  So they sent me behind enemy lines to take pictures.”

Marvin recalls operating the camera was “hard to do with frozen fingers in the winter.”  But that ended up being the easy part of his assignment.  In taking images of the bridges, he had to duck behind a rock wall along the river. “Every time I wanted to take a picture, I had to stand up and focus.  And every time I stood up, the Germans fired sniper rifles. Then I had to move again.  I was almost killed several times.”

Nor was this adventure his only brush with death. “After the invasion of France, I was sleeping in a pup tent. There was a dog fight overhead with Nazi planes, and while I was sleeping, a piece of shrapnel fell into my pup tent.  It missed me by six inches, almost going into my stomach.  It sure woke me up!" Marvin recalls with a chuckle.

Normandy Beach?  Marvin recalls arriving many hours after the opening assault.  "The sand was still stained with the blood of our young boys killed in the initial invasion."

Battle of the Bulge?  Marvin was there, too.  “I thank God that He was watching out for me (19,000 Americans died there), and when I got home, I thanked Him for watching out for me."

Upon returning home, Marvin hung up his uniform, but not his camera.  He launched a successful career shooting photos of babies and weddings and was hired by Sears and other stores to take pictures of children on Santa’s lap.

Just weeks after Marvin shared these adventures with me, he passed away.  Sad to think there are thousands of other Marvins out there with stories untold. But you’ve heard his.  So as we approach Memorial Day, I invite you to join me in saluting the bravery and legacy of Marvin Mischnick—a hero. 


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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