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World War II POW gives keynote address at Linn State Veterans Day Ceremony
Linn State Technical College and the LSTC Veteran’s Club observed Veterans Day on Friday with a keynote address by Sgt. Ralph Kalberloh. Kalberloh, 84, is commander of the Central Missouri Ex-POW Organization and was a prisoner of war during World War II.
Before members of the Linn VFW, the Freeburg American Legion and the faculty, staff and students of Linn State, Kalberloh shared his memories of his military service as a tail gunner for the United States Air Force.
During World War II, Kalberloh fought in Germany. On his first mission, he was quickly thrown into one of the largest air raids of the war. During the raid, Kalberloh’s plane was hit and the decision was made to jump from the plane. Hand in hand with his buddy, Kalberloh jumped from the plane with an escape kit, one K-ration and a Hershey’s chocolate bar. By the time he reached the ground, all Kalberloh had was his Hershey’s chocolate bar.
For several days Kalberloh avoided being captured. Scared and hungry, Kalberloh decided to surrender. Kalberloh was sent to Frankfurt, Germany where he was interrogated and then transferred to a camp in Nuremberg, Germany.
According to Kalberloh, one of the best days of his life occurred the day Gen. George Patton liberated his camp. “First there was a tank come into the camp and then a jeep with Gen. Patton saluting us,” said Kalberloh. “It still makes me cry today.”
“It was a great adventure and a valuable learning experience,” said Kalberloh. “However, I wouldn’t want to do it again.”
With more than 35 programs, Linn State Technical College is Missouri’s only public two-year technical college with a statewide mission. LSTC prepares students for profitable employment and a life of learning. LSTC has three locations in Linn, Mexico and Jefferson City.
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