The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 29, 2009

Mike Pound: Veteran recalls liberation from POW camp

Keith Fiscus wore a red, white and blue vest to work Wednesday, and his employers thought it was great.

I’m guessing that Keith’s employers figure he has pretty much earned the right to wear the vest.

You may not guess it by looking at him, but Keith is your basic war hero. One of your members of the Greatest Generation. Keith doesn’t really see it that way. Ask Keith about his service, and he’ll shrug and try to deflect any praise.

“It wasn’t anything I asked for,” he said.

Keith wore the vest to commemorate a pretty special day in his life. On Wednesday, he marked the 64th anniversary of his liberation from the infamous Dachau German concentration camp.

“It probably doesn’t mean that much to other people, but it does to me,” Keith said.

In 1943, Keith graduated from high school in Sedan, Kan., and like most young men at the time, he joined the military. After six weeks of basic training, he was assigned to the 3rd Army and shipped overseas. Keith said he was told that because he was going to be working as an intelligence and reconnaissance soldier, he didn’t need additional training.

“They told me I would probably be dead in six weeks, so there wasn’t any sense in spending more time training me,” Keith said.

Keith spent much of the war operating behind enemy lines. It was rough and dangerous work. So rough and dangerous, in fact, that the young kid from Kansas soon found himself promoted to captain.

“When all the other officers got killed, you just moved up,” Keith said. “That’s a cruel way to say it, but it’s true.”

On April 29, 1944, exactly one year before he would be liberated from Dachau, Keith was captured in Austria. He was part of a group of U.S. soldiers who had taken a German pillbox and then got caught up in a vicious German counterattack.

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