Bad Luck B-24: 97-year-old P.O.W. Tells His Story

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – (KREX) November 11th, is a time the nation pauses to honor all those who have served in the military. James Corson enlisted in the air force at the age of 18 back in 1943.

Now, he is 97 and has lived in Grand Junction since the late 50s. Not only did Corson serve during World War II, he was also a prisoner of war in Germany for six months. This is his story.

James Corson, says he’s always been a pacifist, but after Pearl Harbor, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. “If I had it all to do it over again, I would probably do it exactly the same, but I ran into a lit bit of bad luck,” Corson says.

Corson was on board a B-24 plane, among a 10 man crew, when enemy fire crash landed the plane in German territory but as Corson says, that type of plane already had a nickname, bad luck B-24. “The B-24 we were flying was a bad luck B-24 and we knew it had leaky fuel tanks, and things replaced just along the way getting to combat, and this was going to be its first combat mission and it only made it about half way,” Corson says.

Corson was the last man to parachute out of the plane and to land on a German farm, but enemies were there waiting. “You weren’t safe coming down in Germany,” Corson says, “The first guy out was carrying a big stick, not a cane, but it was three times this big, and he felt it was his solemn duty to beat me to death.”

After suffering severe injuries to his head, Corson was captured and documented as a prisoner of war but he kept a journal. “It’s my nature to keep a diary so I started right away and wrote everything that happened,” Corson said.

James Corson, was a prisoner of war for six months at the age of 20. He wrote daily journal entries describing the limited food he had and stories about himself, his 15 roommates and more than 17 hundred other prisoners of war from around the world. “The British were much more adventurous then us and there were more British air men in my camp then there were American, but what they did give every prisoner there was a whole new look on life,” Corson said.

Corson traveled to multiple camps before the Germans released him, but before heading back to the states he wanted to see more of Europe and met a young woman who was an interpreter. “That’s the whole romance of my war and its not much,” Corson says, “This girl was pleasant and cheerful and I think for having her mother killed by American bombers, and I was an American bomber is rather astonishing.”

After serving in the military for two years Corson returned home, he spent time as a teacher, a park ranger for over 30 years, and as he would say, he wouldn’t change a thing.

James Corson’s wife passed six year ago, he has five children and some grand children.

At age 97 he is full of life and enjoys spending his time garage selling and never stops searching for treasures.

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