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Doug Robinson: A WWII vet looks back, at last

Published: Monday, Nov. 11 2013 10:35 a.m. MST

Their new 35th mission was no milk run; they were ordered to bomb the industrial center of Germany. To make matters worse, cloud cover made visibility so poor that they couldn’t see the target when they made their first pass, so they had to make a second pass, doubling their exposure to anti-aircraft fire and fighters planes.

“What chance did we have?” says Snarr. “I felt like we weren’t going to make it. We might have had a good chance in a fortified area with one pass, but not two. It wasn’t just a few gunshots. It was continuous (anti-aircraft fire) for 20 miles. We got shot up pretty bad, but we made it back.”

At the end of it all, Snarr marveled that he and his crew survived all 35 missions and didn’t receive so much as a scratch.

“If you believe the Lord wasn’t sitting on both shoulders, I will tell you differently,” he says.

Snarr’s war wasn’t quite finished. He was sent to the Pacific theater, where he was assigned relatively safe duty flying C-54 transport planes. What he learned later was that if the Japanese hadn’t surrendered, he was assigned to fly paratroopers to Japan for an invasion. As it turned out, the Japanese surrendered and Snarr’s first mission was to fly occupation forces from Okinawa to Japan and return with American prisoners of war.

“They had been badly treated by the Japanese, and most of them skin and bones,” says Snarr, who visited with the POWs before they boarded his plane. “It was terrible. They told us how they had been tortured and starved and how they survived. You can’t imagine how human beings can treat each other like that, cutting out prisoner’s tongues, pulling off fingernails, terrible things.”

That was the end of Snarr’s war. He flew home to the Murray farm and got on with his life of family, education, church and career, and for nearly a half-century kept his memories of the war and its horrors to himself.

Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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