My grandfather, Robert Stahlhut, passed away last weekend at age 96. I cannot express how kind a man he truly was, and how much I hope to model his love and commitment to family and faith. I knew him all my life and I never heard an unkind word from his mouth, nor heard anyone speak ill of him. He was a gentle soul and the most humble person I ever met.
What I will remember about him most, besides his kindness and gentle nature, is his war stories. Grandpa was a top turret gunner and aircraft mechanic on a B-17 in WWII, shot down and made a POW for nearly two years. His recollections of this period were never exaggerated or dramatic. He simply told us the details of his military training, his bombing missions, and his capture/imprisonment in Stalag 17-B, all with the matter-of-factness you would expect from someone reviewing a grocery list. He was a methodical man, with great care for all details, not just the headlines from his past. I’m only now beginning to fully appreciate the care he took to not only remember these details, but record them for the sake of his descendants before his mind began to fade.
For anyone with an appreciation for history, my grandfather’s account of his service during and following WWII can be read here: