Eli Linden's Story
By Vicki Linden Beach
My father, Eli Linden, received his draft notice in January 1943, reporting to Ft. McClellan, Alabama, for basic training. In May 1944, he was sent to England across the North Atlantic as part of a 100+ freighter convoy. Following more training, he landed at Omaha Beach three weeks after DDay as a replacement with the 90th Infantry Division. Wounded by shrapnel during the Battle of the Hedgerow, he was sent to England for a three month recovery.
Upon his return to France, he joined Gen. Patton's 3rd Army of the 90th Infantry Division as part of the forward Scout team. Selected as the second of two Scouts, he and the first Scout patrolled ahead of their platoon while approaching German forces past the Siegfried Line. Sadly, the first Scout, who was 10 yards in front of Eli, was killed instantly when he was hit by a rifle grenade after coming out of a clearing.
Eli's platoon later occupied a deserted German town with two German soldiers whom they had captured along the way. But because the German Wehrmacht was closing in, Eli and seven other G.I.s hid in the basement of an abandoned house with their two German P.O.W.s in tow. Knowing that the Allied troops routinely took to hiding in abandoned houses, the German Wehrmacht were about to throw a grenade into the basement where Eli and the others were hiding until the P.O.W.s shouted, "Nein, Nein."
Now a prisoner of war himself, Eli spent four days on a boxcar headed to his next destination: Stalag 4B, a German P.O.W. camp. Sickened by pleurisy, impetigo and frostbite he would spend the next five months trying to survive in a squalid environment.
Liberated in May 1945 by the Russian Cossacks, he walked about five miles and crossed the Elbe River back to the American lines. After arriving back home at the end of May 1945 he had a one month furlough before reporting to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to train for the invasion of Japan; the invasion, of course, never took place.
He now spends a lot of his time sharing his war experiences with middle school students as part of the World War II history curriculum in Loudoun County, Virginia. He also happily greets other veterans who fly in to Dulles Airport on the Honor Flight Network to visit the World War II Memorial specifically.