TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – It is a snap shot of someone’s life.
For Bob Pabst, armed with his ‘brownie’ camera, his pictures are a glimpse into history.
“I don’t know why I took it. It was a boxy thing. I took it when I went overseas. And I carried it in my backpack.” Pabst told us.
Pabst was headed to the front lines of WWII in November 1944.
“We left southern France. And Patton’s whole army was moved by tanks from southern France up to the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. And there is where we really got our baptism of fire.”
Germany’s last ditch effort in the war caught the Allied Forces off guard.
“The line was very very thin, there were not enough Americans. All we were asked to do was hold the line. It was just nip and tuck. And we lost a lot of good men.”
As the fighting continued, the relationship with his squad become tighter.
You might expect a combat photographer to capture scenes of battle. But Pabst captured what was most important to him. His squad.
“This is Shaw and Lapiccolo. Shaw was a corporal who got caught behind enemy lines. His hair turned grey practically overnight. And Frankie Lapiccolo was a kid from New Jersey. And Frankie was our entertainer. I remember one night he was doing an act and we all agreed no matter what he does don’t anybody laugh. And he went into his best act and he just knocked himself out and nobody laughed. And finally he knew and he cussed us out pretty good.”
Images of his friends. Images of his brothers.
By VE Day on May 7th 1945, Bob had lost his camera in action. But as his squad celebrated with his Russian allies, maybe it was for the best.
“And I remember the Russians came. They brought this Russian vodka. I took a couple of swigs of that vodka and couldn’t get my breath. And this Russian soldier pointed and said ‘little boy, little boy’.”
The war was over for Bob Pabst and before long it would be over for the rest of the world.
Although 70 years has passed…the snapshots, and the memories they share, remain.