Wartime Survivors Reunite

Carroll Walsh
Carroll Walsh
NEW PORT RICHEY (2009-05-28) -

Carroll Walsh was a battle-hardened veteran by the time he turned 24. He tore through France at the head of a tank brigade, and shivered through the Battle of the Bulge - which he remembers mostly for his lack of winter clothing.

But nothing could prepare him for what he saw one spring day about a month before the terrible war was about to finally end.

He was the first American soldier to come across a line of train cars that had been abandoned on a rail siding just inside Nazi Germany. Sitting inside were thousands of people - some were walking skeletons who barely had any clothes to wear.

Walsh was quickly called away to battle, and he rarely thought about those thousands who had lived through hell. After all, he still had a war to fight. And Hitler had yet to be defeated.

He was called "Red" back then, and you have to use a little imagination looking at the old black-and-white pictures in his New Port Richey home to figure out why. Walsh served as a supreme court justice in New York state - and at the age of 88 he's sharp as a tack. But for long decades after that day in April 1945, that train was a foggy memory.

"I did not think about it," he says. "Did I recall it? Yeah, I recalled it. Didn't think anything of it. Saw the train in my mind, but what happened? I don't know what happened to those people. I don't know what happened afterward. Never hardly thought about it."

It took a half-century - and a newfangled invention called the Internet - to reunite Walsh with his past. It started on a web page dedicated to his former unit, the 743rd Tank Battalion.

CLICK HERE to see the World War II Living History Project, courtesy of Hudson Falls High School.

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