Holding On To History: Bong Heritage Center continues to gather oral histories from veterans

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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SUPERIOR, WI. (Northern News Now) - In October 1944, Adam Klosowski was on his 17th mission as a B17 waist gunner. The Germans made sure it was his last.

“I watched the plane go down in a slow spiral and hit a house. Of all the places in the country it had to hit that house in one big ball of fire.” said Klosowski during an interview in Cloquet several years ago.

Klosowski and his whole crew were captured and spent the next four months in a POW camp.

“It was nasty because we got very little food, cold, lice.” said Klosowski.

As the allies continued to crush nazi Germany in the spring of 1945, Klosowski and his fellow prisoners spent the next three months on forced marches. Fed up, he escaped with his plane’s ball turret gunner and they roamed the countryside for two weeks before being cornered by armed men.

“I went to pick up a blanket and I heard put them up you SOB or I’ll cut you in half. I didn’t pick up the blanket and I walked over and realized it was an Englishman!” said Klosowski.

Adam’s story of survival inspired his nephew Ray to join the Air Force. The now retired brigadier general never gets tired of true tales from veterans.

“Their stories are great stories to tell, stories of sacrifice, a love of country and defending freedom.” said Ray Klosowski.

Adam Klosowski passed away ten years ago at the age of 92 but his story lives today because he recorded his oral history at the Bong Historical Center in Superior. The center is always ready to record more.

“Every veteran no matter where he or she served has a story to tell and we’re eager to collect that story and share it with others.” said Debbie Ritzinger of the Bong Heritage Center.

World War Two and Korean War vets are fading away rapidly so most stories being recorded these days come from Vietnam veterans but even Afghan and Iraq war vets are encouraged to talk to the Bong Historians. In fact, all vets of all eras of both stateside and overseas service are welcome.

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