|Birth: ||Aug. 16, 1921|
|Death: ||Oct. 20, 2006|
December 31, 2008
Allegany grad survives World War II POW camp
For the Cumberland Times-News
Reamer "Buzz" Sewell watched the bombs drop away from Angel Puss, his B-26 Martin Marauder, and destroy a heavily guarded tank assembly and repair depot near Saarbrucken, Germany, 40 miles behind enemy lines during World War II. Only four out of the 20 bombers that had started on the mission had been able to reach the target.
"No sooner had we relaxed than 'wham' and 4 bursts of ack ack bracketed our ship. I yelled for a steep turn to the right, but it was too late, and the next salvo went off right in the middle of our formation," Sewell wrote in his diary.
The crew of the bomber bailed out as the engines on their plane died and it began to lose altitude.
"With an (e)erie moaning sound, I saw our plane spin past me, and land with a flash of flame in an open field a short distance away," Sewell wrote.
His landing was nearly as bad as the plane's. He broke his ankle, which hampered his ability to elude the Germans. He was captured and spent a week being interrogated in solitary confinement.
He was sent to Stalag Luft III, in Sagan, Germany, for about five months. On Jan. 27, 1945, Sewell and 1,800 other prisoners of war were taken from that camp and marched for 10 days in near-blizzard conditions to Spermburg where they were loaded into railroad cars to be taken to Stammlager VII-A in Moosburg.
In April 1945, U.S. soldiers closed in on the camp and the prisoners got a bit rowdy in their excitement. "The boys tore down all the fences within the compound, and have cut holes thru the other fences into the adjoining compounds. I almost got trampled in the rush when a guard fired 2 shots at the boys on the fence, and everyone headed for cover," Sewell wrote.
Sewell remained there until Gen. George Patton's Third Army liberated him on April 29, 1945. In his diary, Sewell underlined and starred the entry when the Americans arrived. "My greatest thrill was a P-51 that buzzed the camp, and gave us a victory roll about 10:00 a.m.," Sewell wrote. "Machine gun and cannon fire continued all about the camp most of the morning and early afternoon. Our fighter bombers bombed and straffed the whole area giving us quite a show. The town of Mooseberg (Moosburg) was really plastered till they showed a white flag a little after noon."
During his time as a POW, Sewell kept a diary of his life in the prison camps hidden in his sock. He also met other POWs from Allegany County, including Joe Lewis, Jay Coberley and Charlie Bowden.
Sewell was a 1939 graduate of Allegany High School in Cumberland. Following his graduation, he attended University of Maryland College Park where he joined the ROTC.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Sewell and some of his fraternity brothers hitchhiked into Washington, D.C,. to attend a Redskins game. "After the game started, the loudspeakers were constantly paging admirals, generals and high-ranking government officials. At halftime it was announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor," a display at the MAPS Air Museum in Ohio reads.
Sewell enlisted in the Army Air Corps, the forerunner to the U.S. Air Force, in January 1942 and became a first lieutenant. He served as a lead navigator/bombardier with the 558th Bomber Squardron of the 387th Bomb Group (Medium) out of Stoney Cross AAF Base in England.
His 15th mission on Oct. 12, 1944, won him a Silver Star for his perseverance in executing the bombing run, but it was also the mission that made him a prisoner of war.
Following his release from the POW camp, Sewell was sent home. He was prepared to be deployed again, but the war ended.
After the war, the Allegany graduate returned to the University of Maryland to earn his degree. He worked for companies such as Shell and Goodyear until 1955. Then he spent the next 24 years working for Eastern Airlines at Friendship Airport in Baltimore.
He married Ruth Dubbert in September 1946 and the two of them had three children.
Sewell died on Oct. 20, 2006, in Baltimore and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Nationwide Gravesite Locator > Search Results
1. SEWELL, REAMER E JR
1ST LT US AIR FORCE
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 08/16/1921
DATE OF DEATH: 10/20/2006
BURIED AT: SECTION 66 SITE 5528 Click to view the cemetery map
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
C/O DIRECTOR ARLINGTON, VA 22211
Reamer Edward Sewell (1892 - 1986)
Helen Belle Chambers Sewell (1898 - 1979)
Arlington National Cemetery
Created by: Joe Mckenzie
Record added: Jan 01, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 32548982
Thank you for serving our country & what you went threw, your 10th cousin|
Added: May. 31, 2016
Rest in peace.|
Added: Nov. 11, 2013
Added: Feb. 22, 2009
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