Today I met with Ferns son Alan, he explained how a simple thing like waking his father from a nap would trigger almost a panic from Fern, who would jump up ready for a fight. But not until Fern was 80 years old did he start to open up about his war years. Fortunately, Fern Frechette did live beyond eighty and his family and us as readers, know the real difficulties and sacrifices made by veterans like Frechette.
Excerpt from "My Father's War: Memories from Our Honored WWII Soldiers."
Feature Veteran story from Fernand Frechette
Frechette, of course being the only French speaking soldier, had been told a secret by the little girl. “The barn behind them had German soldiers in it!” There were only the three of them at this time together—the Captain, Sergeant and Corporal Frechette—and they were pretty concerned about this situation unfolding. The Captain had a couple grenades and a sidearm pistol, the First Sergeant had a carbine rifle and Frechette had a sub machine gun.
The barn was located next to a hilly bank and Frechette was ordered to climb it to overlook the doorway. The nervous Captain threw one of his grenades at the barn, but it landed just short of the door. The captain and sergeant went to the door and nervously watched as the door swung open and a German soldier came out waving a white flag of surrender. Behind him, there were a line of armed German soldiers walking out with their hands up; there were over thirty soldiers in total in that barn, all marching out to surrender. This was the first time they had seen the enemy face-to-face; they were scared and quite outnumbered. “If I’d had to pull the trigger, I don't think I would have been able to,” he recalled about his first encounter. “I was shaking so hard…I've never been so afraid in my life. The first German soldier I went up to, with my gun pointing at him…he had a machine gun too. I grabbed his gun and he put his hands up. That’s when about 30 more Germans followed him out. This was our first contact with German soldiers and I was never so scared in my whole life.”
With shaking hands and more courage than he ever thought he possessed, Frechette reached over and took the firearm from the enemy. Seventy-years later, he still owns that exact weapon, given to his son Gary many years after the event. The Nazi’s were tired of fighting. Who knows how long they had been in that barn, what they might have had to eat, drink and endure. The Captain had Frechette get in the jeep to go get some troop support. Frechette smiled when talking how his “legs were shaking and he could barely drive the jeep.”
About The Author:
Charley Valera has always had a fascination with WWII and its effects on the soldiers and their families. Charley knew his father was a WWII veteran and, like most of us, he never asked what life was like during the war. Years after Valera's father passed away, taking his stories with him, he was determined to document the lives of other veterans. Within these pages are over two years of interviewing dozens of veterans.
Charley writes articles and blogs for various media on topics from real estate to aviation. A licensed commercial pilot, Realtor, author, public speaker, father of two boys and husband to Cheryl, Charley also owns and runs the FCA Flight Center, a flight training school in central Massachusetts.
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To purchase and have a book personalized please visit Charley's Website.