The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 3, 2013

Windber man feted for war tribulations

JOHNSTOWN — Hundreds of men where shuffled like cattle into wooden buildings in Krems, Austria.

Inside each barracks, beds were stacked three high with few blankets. Little coal was available for a single stove to generate much heat during the bitter cold winters.

Outside, wire fences charged with electricity surrounded the compound. Machine gunners manned four watchtowers.

It was 1945, and the place was called Stalag 17b.

This was home for German prisoner of war and Windber native Virgil G. Faust. A technical sergeant in the Army Air Corp, Faust was a radio operator on a B-17 when the plane was shot down during a bombing mission.

Faust, 91, was honored Friday, surrounded by family and friends, during a ceremony at the Presbyterian Home of Greater Johnstown.

“Today we should rejoice as we recognize Virgil Faust and his band of brothers,” said Douglas Lengenfelder, Cambria County commissioner and retired Air Force colonel.

“He endured 10 days of interrogations before being placed in Stalag 17 and was a prisoner of war for 21 months prior to being liberated by General Patton on May 3, 1945,” Lengenfelder said.

Local and state officials gathered for the outdoor ceremony. The event included a flag raising and wreath laying. Several other former POWs also attended.

Several fliers circulated quoting Faust.

“My plane was shot down during a mission to bomb a Schveinfurt ball-bearing plant,” Faust said in a news release.  “I wandered around for 24 hours before finding a farm. The farmer’s daughter reported me to Hitler Youth, and I was taken in for questioning.”

Faust, a 1939 graduate of Windber High School, gave his name, rank and serial number.

On Friday, the frail, former POW stood at the podium to thank the many people who joined him.

“I want to thank you for celebrating my 68th anniversary of my liberation,” he said. “With that I’ll say thank you and good- bye.”

Proclamations were read by county Commissioner Mark Wissinger, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Jackson, and a representative for U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley.

Family members later shared stories about Faust.

“He’s a very humble man,” said Dennis Holtzman, Faust’s son-in-law.

Prisoners were fed potato soup. But the Germans ate the potatoes and left the prisoners with only the broth, Holtzman said.

“He still won’t eat soup to this day,” Holzman said.

A volunteer at the Presbyterian Home came up with the anniversary idea, administrator Dave Thomas said.

“I learned a lot about World War II talking to him,” said Valerie Wendel, a volunteer. “I said, ‘Why can’t we put something together to honor him for his 68th anniversary?’ He (Thomas) said run with it.”

The POW camp was the subject of books, a stage drama and a movie called “Stalag 17.”

 

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 15, 2014

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G

    Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads