THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
George Sparks kept notes on
90-day, 450-mile 'hike' as POW
George Sparks in Corps of Cadets
at Texas A&M, 1941-42
Born in Waco on Sept. 26, 1921 to Ernest C. and Jennie Sparks, George Howard Sparks was a 20-year-old student at Texas A&M from Blanco, Texas when America was plunged into World War II by the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the ROTC program, Sparks enlisted in the U. S. Army, from A&M, as a Second Lieutenant on May 17, 1942.
Sparks, 23, became a platoon leader in the 54th Armored Infantry, 10th Division. During the night of Nov. 27, 1944, his squad was surrounded and captured by the Germans during the battle at the Siegfried Line.
For five months and two days he was a POW, first on a meandering 34-day trip to camp Oflag 64, at Schubin, Poland, near Altburgund. Twenty days later the POWs began a punishing three-month journey of some 450 miles-- nearly all on foot except for a 3-day train ride-- to Stalag VII-A at Moosburg in southern Germany, just north of Vienna, Austria. Nine days after reaching VII-A, the POWs were liberated by American troops-- on April 29, 1945, about one week before Germany surrendered.
From the time Sparks set sail for France, until he was freed from the POW camp, he kept diary-like notes. This he managed to continue, in startling detail, even while a prisoner. On April 30, 1945, the day after being freed, Sparks put all those meticulous notes together in a 20-page "V-Mail" letter to his mother in Blanco. He has the letter in his possession today. It is published as follows:
Well, it looks as though one of the biggest days in my life has finally arrived -- my liberation from the hands of the Third Reich! This is the third attempt, but this time it seems to be the real thing. I hope you haven't worried too much about me during the past five months. I am feeling fine and none the worse for my recent experiences -- that is, except for what your home cooking can remedy.
Now for a "blow by blow" description of my "visit" to Europe: As you know, we sailed from New York on the 12th of September last year on the U.S.S. Gen. Wm H. Black. After a smooth voyage we landed in Cherbourg, France on the 23rd of September. We were transported to the vicinity of Valognes in the Normandy Base Section. Our bivouac was in an apple orchard.
During my stay here I got to visit the towns of Valognes, Cherbourg, Carentan, St. Lo, St. Marie Eglise, and the invasion beaches, all of which were in the headline news only a few months prior to my visit. Most of the towns are in ruins, and St. Lo just "ain't."
We left Normandy around the 25th of October-- headed for the front. The people would line the road throwing apples and flowers, while the children begged for cigarettes and chocolates. The route we took carried us through St. Saveur, Pon L'Abbe, Perriers, Falais, Mantes, St. Germain, Paris, Chalones on the Marne, Verdun, and Mars La Tours. We saw towns in ruins, and along the roadsides German equipment was thickly scattered. Our thoughts were never allowed to wander from what lay ahead of us -- the many fresh looking graves of English soldiers kept us reminded.
We didn't get to see much of Paris. We went through the city down Champs de Elysses at about 45 miles per hour. I was seated on the hood of my vehicle, busily knocking curious onlookers aside. We did see the Arc de Triumphe, as our route carried us within two blocks of it.
We arrived in the vicinity of Metz and went into the lines on the 1st of November. This was defensive action, consisting mostly of artillery duels and patrolling. This lasted for about a week. We then left this position and went to the north, crossing the Moselle River at Malling. For the first week I was in no danger, as I had the security platoon for one of our Generals. I then rejoined the Company around the 23rd of November, still nothing exciting happening except artillery.
I left the Company again on the 27th of November-- this time to become a "guest" of Hitler's Reich.
Surrendered To Get Aid For wounded This "invitation" was extended at Borg, Germany, in the middle of the Siegfried Line. The Germans counter-attacked at midnight, encircling the squad I was with. Of the 5 left in the squad, 2 were killed, 2 wounded and one was taken prisoner with me. I surrendered so that the 2 wounded men could have a chance at medical care; it was hopeless for me to get out with them.
We were evacuated through the towns of Saarburg, Saarbrucken, Solzbach, Ottwieler, Frankfurt on the Main, to Stalag XII-A at Limburg. I stayed at this Stalag until December 23rd, except for a week spent in solitary confinement at Dietz, Germany, in an old castle. I was sent there for interrogation, not for misconduct. My daily subsistence while at the castle consisted of about 2 slices of bread, a slab of margarine, and 2 bowls of soup. Once during the week I was given a hunk of blood sausage. On leaving the castle I was given my first American Red Cross (ARC) box, which really did look good to me.
I was returned to Limburg and stayed there until the 23rd of December, at which time we boarded a box car, supposedly to leave for our next camp. That night the R.A.F. came over to bomb Limburg. One bomb landed on the barracks we had left only three hours before, killing 60 officers. Another bomb landed about 50 yards from the train and killed 6 GIs. That is one time that I really did some praying! The train did not leave until the 26th of December. During this period we were given about 4 slices of bread and an English Red Cross box, to be split among 15 men.
The route we took to Poland went through Frankfurt on the Main, Erfurt, Lepzig, Dresden, Frankfurt on the Oder, Posen, Bromburg, and finally to Schubin, our destination. The camp here was Oflag 64. It was on the night of December 31st when we arrived, and in the darkness, the reflections from the lights of the barracks on the snow pictured to us some college back home.
Inside, we were given a good American welcome by the inmates. On the 1st of January I was given a hot shower, one of the few I had had since landing in France. We were also given American Red Cross Christmas packages which contained a can of boned turkey, plum pudding, candies, nuts, honey, a can of Vienna sausages, 2 packages of pipe tobacco, and a deck of playing cards. It also contained other items which I cannot recall at the present. You can imagine how all that tasted to me!
About 3 days later I was given an ARC parcel, then about 3 days later I was given still another. I thought I had reached Heaven with all that food. During the 21 days I was there I was given 2 more parcels. I also wrote 3 letters and 6 cards to you, Mary Maude, and Sibyl. The camp was well furnished with entertainment material. We had a library of 7,000 volumes, a swing band, Little Theater group, and in warm weather, they had athletic contests of all kinds. All this was possible by the YMCA and American Red Cross.
(Left) Telegram to Sparks' mother in Blanco in Nov. 1944 informing her that he was Missing in Action. (Right) Subsequent telegram informing her that he was a POW of the German Government.
The news was both good and bad during this period. The west front was bad, and the Russian front was good. In fact, the latter was so good that bets were flying around camp as to whether we would move or not. Finally the day arrived. On the 20th of January we were given orders by the German commander that we would move within the next 48 hours. On January 21st at 1000 hours, after a long and snafu appel, approximately 1500 officers and men evacuated Oflag 64. The equipment carried by most men consisted of one American Red Cross box and a few extra clothes.
Heartbreaker For Longtime POWs For some of the old men, to make this move was a heartbreaker because of the hard work they had done to make the camp what is was. The weather was cold, the temperature around 0... The roads were crowded with refugee trains. The first day we marched 22 kilometers (Ed. Note: kilometer is about 0.621 of one mile ) to a farm 6 kilometers past Exin. The night was spent in a barn in the hay. All we had that first day was from the Red Cross box. The Germans furnished us nothing.
The next morning (22nd of January), we were formed to march at 0900, leaving behind some 200 sick. The hike was long and without any breaks. The roads were still crowded with "super people" going back home. The Poles were friendly, giving a little bread and cheese. The night was spent at Eschfield after a march of 28 kilometers.
We awoke the following morning to find the guards gone. We could hear small arms fire and artillery, and we thought we had been liberated by Russians. The Poles killed hogs and prepared soup, but the guards returned around 1500 and took us away before we chance to eat it. Some of the officers escaped or hid in the town. Their fate we never learned.
We went to Charlettenburg, a distance of 7 kilometers. On the morning of the 24th the Germans finally broke down and gave us something to eat-- a cup of pea soup (cold). The weather was still cold and the ground covered with snow. We went to the town of Lobsens. While waiting on a billeting party, the Poles gave us bread and cheese, in spite of active Gestapo. We spent the night in some barns outside of town.
The Germans got real generous on the morning of the 25th. Before we started our daily hike they gave us 3/4ths loaf of bread, 1/8th pound of margarine, 1/6th pound of cheese, and a cup of hot oatmeal. To check the barns for hideouts, the guards used their sub-machine guns to shoot up the barns. That day found us entering Germany, still within hearing of small arms fire and artillery. After a march of 23 kilometers we stayed in the town of Flatow.
The 26th was a day of rest, the first since leaving Oflag 64. The character of the German race was brought out when a frozen Russian was brought in, and the Germans would not take care of him nor would they permit our doctors to do anything. Also here we were informed that Russia was at war with the United States and England, and that Stalin had recalled the ambassadors from these countries. We were given some barley soup, potato soup, 1/4th loaf of bread, and some ersatz coffee during our stay here.
On the morning of the 27th we marched 20 kilometers to the town of Jastrow. On the way we met big columns of English and Russian POWs. The German ration here was a cup of potato soup.
Frozen Shoes, Deep Snow Drifts On the 28th we made one of the worst marches that we had to make on the entire trip. This was due to our frozen shoes, deep snow drifts, and windswept plains of about 3 miles. At the town of Zippnow we got our first break of the march. We slept in a schoolhouse with a stove and enough coal and wood to keep the room warm and to dry out shoes and socks. This day we covered 17 kilometers.
The next morning, after having a cup of meat and potato soup, we started out across another windswept plain and deep snow drifts. We passed through one of the biggest artillery schools in Germany. That night we spent in Oflag II-D, which had just been evacuated of its Polish officers. We found sufficient coal to keep the barracks warm. The distance covered that day was 8 kilometers. For supper was had saur kraut.
The day of the 30th found us trying to get another day of rest, but around 1200 the German Colonel came in and told us that the Russians had captured Jastrow and that we had to move. Also, some more propaganda was given by the German Colonel to the effect that Allied paratroopers had landed around Stettin to help stop the Russian advance and that the OKW would give us commissions to fight on the East front, which was refused by our Colonel on the basis that we were prisoners of war. After a dinner of potato and grass soup we started for Machlin. Most of the march was at night and very snafu! The German guides got lost several times, taking us on the wrong roads. The distance covered was 13 kilometers.
On the 31st we were given 1 loaf of bread, 1 cup of potato and noodle soup, and were started for the town of Templeburg. It was rumored that we would catch a train. (On the march we passed a column of Serbian officers). However, upon arrival at the town we found the rumor to be false. We slept in barns 4 kilometers on the other side of Templeburg. Total distance marched that day was 16 kilometers. For supper a German farmer gave us milk, noodles, and potatoes for soup.
On the 1st of February we marched 4 kilometers to Heinrichdorf where we were billeted in a large barn atop a high, slippery hill. The German guards were all excited because of rumors afloat that Himmler was in the town. That night the ration was potato soup.
The next morning we awakened to find the weather considerably warmer and the snow melting. We given a loaf of bread and cup of pea soup before starting the 17 kilometer hike to the town of Zulshagen through the town of Falkenburg.
We were given a day of rest on the 3rd of February. During the day the German guards caught an officer stealing a chicken, and the German Colonel announced that if another such incident should occur the guilty officers would be tried for sabotage. A cup of noodle soup was our entire ration for that day.
Pulled Sleds To Carry Blankets, Equipment Something of interest which I have failed to mention heretofore was the use of sleds during our march. Sleds of all descriptions had been used by us in the column to carry blanket rolls and other equipment. On this day, orders were given by our senior officers to abandon these sleds.
The weather continued to be warmer as we left on the 4th for Gienow, 17 kilometers away. We passed through the fair-sized town of Dramburg. On the 5th we went to Zietlhitz via Mangren, a distance of 18 kilometers, and the day's rations consisted of spuds, oatmeal and cabbage soup.
On the 6th we proceeded 20 kilometers to Regenwald, where we were allowed to sleep in barracks of a refugee camp. We were plenty upset and irked while at Regenwald at the sight of American Red Cross parcels loaded in civilian vehicles. The next morning after breakfast of cabbage soup, we were given 1/2 loaf of bread to last 4 days and we started on our way to Lebbin through Griefenberg, a distance of 20 kilometers.
On the 8th, we marched 18 kilometers to Stuchow. Here we had a supper of cabbage soup and ersatz. The next day we visited the town of Stresnow after a "stroll" of 14 kilometers. For supper that night we had spuds and mint tea-- smelled good, but tasted awful! On the morning of the 10th we were told that we would reach the Oder River that day. We arrived at the town of Dievenow about 1400 and slept on an airfield in brick barracks. To reach the airfield we had to make our first crossing of the Oder Estuary. It was Saturday, and a funny thing was done. The Germans issued us a loaf of bread which was to last for 7 days-- 7 days beginning the following Monday! Rations for that Saturday were spuds and turnip gravy.
The next morning we went 15 kilometers to Neun-dorf. The route led us over a road used by the Germans for an airplane runway as well as for vehicles. Camouflaged planes could be seen in the woods all along this highway. Our day's ration was a cup of barley soup. On the 12th we continued to Swinemunde, marching 25 kilometers. Here we slept in the attic of a brick building in a navy yard, and we were treated well by the naval personnel. I had my first hot shower since leaving Oflag. While here we got to see a portion of the German fleet which consisted of several destroyers and other warships.
It was snowing again when we awakened on the morning of the 13th. After a breakfast of spuds and gravy we crossed another part of the Oder on a train ferry and after walking in what seemed to be a circle for 8 kilometers, we spent the night in Gorze. Here again we saw military planes camouflaged in the woods along the road.
The 14th was spent in marching 14 kilometers to Stolpe. We spent this night in a barn overlooking the Oder River. Our supper was spuds, gravy and mint tea. We were given another day of rest on the 15th. Nothing exciting happened that day. Vegetable soup made of cow-peas and potatoes was our day's ration. On the 16th it was necessary to re-organize our column, however, as about 200 men were left behind because of sickness.
We marched 22 kilometers to a farm 4 kilometers west of Anklam. Our supper consisted of 1 box of knackerbrote, soup, spuds, and 1/6th loaf of bread.
Countess' Son Was POW In America On the 17th we were spurred on with the rumors that we were to receive Red Cross boxes within the next few days. After a breakfast of 2 boxes of knackerbrote, soup, and spuds, we went to a farm 2 kilometers east of Gutzkow, covering a distance of 27 kilometers for the day. For once the rumors proved to be true. We received our first American Red Cross boxes since leaving Oflag!
On the 18th we rested. The countess who owned the farm at which we stopped had a son who was a POW in America. She went to the German Colonel and requested that we be permitted to stay at her place for the day to rest. Her request was granted. We had a real treat that day-- our first fresh vegetable, even though they were carrots stored in a silo for the stock. They really tasted good after our diet of spuds and cabbage soup. The German ration for this day was again, a cup of soup.
On the 19th our "Cook's Tour" carried us to Jarmin, a distance of 11 kilometers. We were given 1/6th loaf of bread for the day. On the following day we received our biggest surprise of the march. In Demmin the International Red Cross representative gave each of us a Canadian Red Cross parcel. We then proceeded to Eugenienburg, making a total march of 21 kilometers. German rations were 1/6th loaf of bread, soup, and spuds.
The German Colonel made another speech in which he said that we would catch a train within the next 3 or 4 days. He further stated that he had requested more Red Cross food, but the OKW had denied him. He added, however, that he had been able to obtain some Canadian Red Cross parcels without the permission of the OKW.
The 21st of February was another day of rest. We did some fancy cooking with our Red Cross parcels that day. To break the monotony of the German boiled spuds, we prepared them in a variety of ways: french fried, creamed, mashed, and even au gratin.
On the 22nd we visited Neukalen, adding 17 additional kilometers to our total. We were billeted in barns on the edge of town and had to walk a mile on the other side of town for chow-- which was barley soup, spuds and 1/6th loaf of bread. We detected rising friendliness in the German people that we encountered.
On the 23rd we proceeded to Basedow through Machlin, a distance of 18 kilometers. In Machlin we saw evidence of our Air Force for the first time. Box cars were scattered all over the rail yards, and we began to hope that we would not be catching a train. For supper we had cabbage soup, spuds and 1/6th loaf of bread. We covered 21 kilometers the next day to reach Cramon. We were given turnip soup and spuds. On the way to Plauerhagen, a distance of another 21 kilometers, we walked through pine forests. For supper we had spuds and hot water.
German People Show More Friendliness February 26th was another day of rest. Barley and meat soup was our day's ration. We went to Lutheran the following day by way of Lubz, adding another 16 kilometers to our hike. Turnip soup, 1/2 loaf of bread, and 1/5th pound of margarine comprised our rations. We now noted a decided increase in friendliness on the part of the German people toward us. Here we were given a Red Cross parcel to be split by each two men.
On the 28th we walked in a huge circle, and at noon took a break on the banks of a wooded creek where deer abounded. Upon our arrival at Siggelkow, a distance of 13 kilometers, we were told that we would await there for train transportation. That night we had our turnip soup and spuds.
We waited at Siggelkow until the 5th of March. While there I was permitted to write one card which I hope you received. A great deal of trading between the Germans and the prisoners took place there. The German civilians would gladly trade bread for the soluble coffee we had in our possession. The German rations for the entire waiting period consisted of 1 loaf of bread, 1/4 pound of margarine, and a daily issue of soup and spuds.
On the 6th we marched 10 kilometers and there boarded a train. The box car that I was in was of Italian make, and there were 36 American officers and 4 German guards in the car. It was some satisfaction to know that the Germans had alternately placed the abbreviations, "U.S.A." and "POW" on the tops of the box cars with white paint.
We were still aboard the train on the 7th; and on the 8th we arrived at Hammelburg around 1730. We were kept aboard the box cars that night and the next morning were marched to Oflag XIII-B. The country side around there was about the prettiest I have ever seen. The hillsides were covered in pine forests, and the valleys below were green with grain crops.
Outside the Oflag the German Colonel gave us his farewell talk, thanking us for our good behavior and expressing that our conduct would be credit any army. He announced that he would no longer be with us, as a General was commandant of the camp there.
After waiting around all day, the processing was finally completed around midnight. Included in the processing procedure were a personal search, a de-lousing of clothing, and a hot shower.
Some of the totals for the preceding march from Oflag 64 are given as follows:
Distance marched: 571 kilometers (357 miles); 7 1/2 loaves of bread; 1 1/20th pounds of margarine; an average of 5 spuds per day; 1 cup of soup per day; 3 boxes of knackerbrote (a type of crackers); and 1/8th pound of cheese.
The period spent at Oflag XIII-B was from March 9th to March 27th. A normal "kriegie" life was led during those 19 days-- that is, there was no activity nor entertainment, and our time was spent in lying around and discussing food and eating places. (I accumulated a list of the latter which would make Duncan Hines green with envy.) I lost several pounds as we had very little food, and practically no Red Cross parcels. There were several days that I was actually too weak to do much walking.
On the afternoon of the 27th, while attending Church, we began hearing tank fire down in the town of Hammelburg. You can't imagine how the morale of the camp soared at this sound. For about 2 hours, small arms fire whistled all around the camp and around 5 p.m., our executive officer left the camp with Old Glory and a white flag to meet the approaching task force commander.
Second Hope Of Rescue Fades Around 6:00 we evacuated the camp and mounted the tanks and half-tracks, ready to start for the American lines. After helping ourselves to all the "K" rations that we could hold, we started asking questions as to the direction of the American lines. We were told that they were 60 miles to the West. Our morale dropped a little at the thought of the distance but we still had faith in the task force. We covered about 10 miles during the night and, while so doing, met with some resistance.
The following morning (the 28th), Colonel Goode (our senior officer) gave us an opportunity to make our choice of: (1) returning to camp with him, (2) making the American lines on our own, or (3) remaining with the task force and fighting it out.
The majority of us took the first choice and arrived back at the camp around noon. Upon arrival we discovered the Serbs had ransacked our barracks, taking all the equipment left there by us. Around 4:00 that afternoon we got orders that we would catch a train at Nuenberg. On our way to the station we saw German soldiers driving the vehicles of the task force up to the camp. We all then realized what had happened to those gallant men. We later found out definitely that most of them were taken prisoners.
We boarded the box cars around 6 o'clock with 37 men and two guards per car. For the trip each man was given 1/4 Red Cross parcel, 1/2 loaf of bread, and 1/3 can of meat. We arrived in Nuenberg on April 1st. On arrival we found the camp already had around 10,000 American prisoners, most Air Corps men. We got a lot of "late" news from the States here, as most of these men had been shot down as late as March. We stayed here until April 4th. The food and morale here were excellent. Our quarters were large tents with from 40 to 100 men assigned to a tent.
We evacuated Nuenberg at 1 o'clock in the afternoon with one British Red Cross parcel. We marched 14 kilometers to a forest near Pfeiferhutte. Fortunately, the night was warm, as we slept on the ground. We left here the next morning around 8:00. The day was very snafu-- waiting for chow from 11:00 a.m. until midnight. During the wait we witnessed a 1,000-plane raid on what we supposed was Nuenberg. We were finally fed one cup of pea soup and 1/9th loaf of bread at Neumarkt. Resuming our march at 2:00 a.m. in a downpour of rain, we marched until 10:30, when we stopped in a woods for breakfast and we were given an opportunity to dry our clothes.
Around noon we arrived in the town of Beching where we waited from 2:00 until 7:00 p.m. in a torrential rainstorm for 1/2 British Red Cross parcel and 1/9th loaf of bread. We were billeted in a church with 400 men. The total distanced marched that day was 38 kilometers.
On the morning of April 7th we left at 8:00 and marched 30 kilometers to Sandersdorf, arriving at 10:30. The country was very pretty of rolling fields and forests. We observed very primitive methods of farming. Oxen were dominant on most farms.
American Bombers Pass Overhead The 8th was a day of rest. People were generous with wood. Some of the boys went fishing in a nearby stream and caught a nice mess of fish. American planes were overhead taking pictures throughout the day. We left the next morning at 9:00 and marched through country that was still quite pretty, with good farmlands. We crossed the "beautiful blue Danube" at Neustadt. Here we received 1/4 loaf of bread and 1/2 American Red Cross parcel. A lot of bombers passed overhead going toward Munich. The distance marched that day was 19 kilometers.
On the morning of the 10th we marched 15 kilometers to the town of Niederumelsdorf. The 11th was a day of rest. The weather turned off to beautiful and we enjoyed our day of rest. We were permitted to rest again on the 12th. We had a formation 2 kilometers from town in the morning. The Air Force was active again, and some incendiaries were dropped about a mile from where we were. On those last 2 days of rest we received 1/4th loaf of bread.
On the 13th we marched 4 kilometers to the town of Margarestan. The people were friendly and traded bread to us for cigarettes. We were given 2/9th load of bread as rations. The 14th was another day of rest. For a change of diet we found a field of turnip greens. The 15th was also made a day of rest. We were given 1/9th loaf of bread that day.
On the 16th we marched 11 kilometers to Holzhausen. Here we were given 1/4th American Red Cross box and 1/4th French Red Cross box (containing 6 cans of sardines, 3 pounds of sugar, 6 packages of French cigarettes, and 4 spice cakes.) We also received 1/9th loaf of bread.
It was a 6 kilometer march to Gammelsdorf on the 18th, where we received 1/4 English Red Cross parcel. The 19th was a day of rest, highlighted with the guards fussing at a farmer for being stingy with his wood. On April 20th we marched to Mossburg, where Stalag VII-A was located. The totals for this second march were: 155 kilometers (96 miles) marched in 16 days of marching; 1 1/2 loaves of bread issued.
At Moosburg we were given a shower and were shown to our barracks. There were approximately 300 men assigned to each barrack. An average daily issue of food was 1/6th Red Cross box per person; 1/6th loaf of bread; an issue of soup, kraut, margarine, cheese or meat. Our period here was filled with more activity as this was a Red Cross distributing point, and we had a good assortment of athletic equipment.
It was yesterday (April 29) that the Big Day arrived. The American troops liberated this camp without much trouble, raising Old Glory above the town of Moosburg. (Ed. Note: Ironically, it was also at the Moosburg POW camp and on the same day that Searcy Standley, whose story was published in this feature on June 19 and also a POW, was liberated) You should have seen this camp at that time! Everyone ganged at the gates trying to see some of the troops. Whenever an Army vehicle could come in, it would be mobbed by us-- wanting rations and cigarettes.
Today (April 30) another big event happened. Two American Red Cross girls entered the camp-- the first American girls I had seen in 8 months! Also, a minor incident happened. General Patton and 6 senators visited the camp. Of course they were full of promises of evacuating us hurriedly. There isn't much more for me to write now, so I'll close-- hoping to see you soon to tell you all the rest. Give my regards to the family-- and get the stove warmed up.
Your hungry son, Howard.
Asked how he was able to keep his notes with them being taken away from him, Sparks says, "I don't know. I just had a little folding notebook and I managed to keep it."
The War Department, which on Dec. 12, 1944 had sent a telegram to Sparks' mother notifying her that her son was missing in action, and notified her on March 1, 1945 that he was a prisoner of war, sent another telegram on June 1, that stated: "The Chief of Staff of the Army directs me to inform you that your son, 2/Lt Sparks George H is being returned to the United States in the near future and will be given an opportunity to communicate with you on arrival."
Sparks did return later that year. On Feb. 18, 1946, he received his discharge at Camp Fannin, Texas, with the rank of First Lieutenant.
For his service, Sparks received the European-African-Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign Medal, with two Bronze Stars; the American Campaign Medal; Combat Infantryman Award; World War II Victory Medal; and the POW Medal.
Back in civilian life, Sparks took up a career of a high school agriculture teacher. Going to work at Cuero, he met his future bride, Beulah M. Gunter, when she joined the Cuero faculty as a history teacher. They were married on June 14, 1947 in the Palacios Methodist Church.
Sparks, who resides on Route 1, moved to the Palacios area in 1958 to join his father-in-law, W. T. Gunter, Sr., in the farming business.
When he attended the Beacon's group photo session of World War II veterans at the Luther Hotel in June, Sparks said he still likes potato soup.
Mr. Sparks died in August 2005 at the age of 83.
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