Ex-WWII prisoner living in East Bay reflects on time serving in US Army

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KRON4 is continuing to spotlight the brave veterans who have fought for this country.

On Monday, you’ll meet an ex-prisoner of war now living in Pleasanton.

He tells KRON4 he thinks about his time in the army often.

“The thing I’m proud of is the rifleman award,” veteran Milt Feldman said. “I have a purple heart, and I have the bronze star.”

It’s been more than 70 years since 94-year-old Feldman was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

“I got into the war late, but it was a very active time that I was there,” Feldman said.

And his time as a 19-year-old infantryman in World War II, marching through the Ardennes Forest in Europe before being captured by Hitler’s forces during the Battle of the Bulge, is still firmly etched into his mind.

“The telegrams are telling my family first of all that I was missing in action,” Feldman said. “Secondly, that I was a prisoner. Third, that I’d been liberated and the fourth one, that I was on my way home.”

Feldman recently published a book about his stint in 1945 as a prisoner of war deep in German territory.

The book is called, “Captured, Frozen, Starved–and Lucky. How a Jewish-American GI Survived a Nazi Stalag.”

“There were horror stories, there were funny stories, all sorts of things,” Feldman said. “But in general, I was very, very lucky.”

His journey is also the focus of filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley’s documentary “Milt Feldman — A Soldier’s Dream.”

It premiered in August at the Stoneridge Creek Senior Living Community in Pleasanton where Milt shares a villa with his 91-year-old second wife, Renee Bauer.

“[Laughs] He’s a wonderful man,” Bauer said. “I’m so lucky. He keeps saying he’s so lucky, but I’m so lucky.”

“We’re both lucky,” Feldman adds.

Lucky, because after spending more than three months in the POW camp, Milt says he and the other soldiers captured in his unit escaped.

Nazi Germany collapsed, and when Feldman returned to the states, he started his own firm and enjoyed a career as a certified public accountant before retiring nearly 20 years ago.

“Proud is not the word,” Feldman said, “I served, like most people, because I had to serve. But when I had to serve, I did. There were a lot of people who didn’t and some of them for very good reasons for medical reasons or other reasons. There were a good number that didn’t have good reasons. And, sometimes, I think they don’t appreciate what they’ve gotten.”

Now, he’s a great-grandfather and one of the many celebrated veterans who put it all on the line for his country.

And he survived the struggle to tell his story.

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