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95-Year-Old Army Vet Bares Vivid Memories of War in New Book

95-Year-Old Army Vet Bares Vivid Memories of War in New Book
(Courtesy of Frank Sisson)

By    |   Monday, 19 October 2020 11:49 AM

Not many military veterans in 2020 can look you straight in the eye and say "I marched with Patton" — but Frank Sisson can.

Sisson, who served in the Third Army under legendary Gen. George S. Patton, is now 95 years old and has written a compelling book about his service on the front lines in Europe.

In "I Marched With Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army's Greatest Generals," the Oklahoma native candidly reveals his thoughts about "Old Blood and Guts," whose explosive and belligerent personality often got him in hot water.

"He was the greatest general we ever had," Sisson told Newsmax in a recent interview. "I have to admit his mouth got him into a lot of trouble, but his results overshadowed his faults. … I'd follow him to the ends of the earth."

At the age of 18, Sisson enlisted in the Army and was shipped off to France where, under Patton, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate the notorious Dachau concentration camp.

The latter experience has haunted him for years and he still remembers his first sight of the Third Reich's inhumanity as he arrived.

"They were loading someone into a truck. It was the most pitiful sight you could ever see. A 6-foot man who weighed about 85 pounds. He was nothing but bone — just flesh over the bone," said Sisson, who was quickly surrounded by scores of emaciated prisoners.

"When they saw us they fell down and started worshipping us. They wanted to kiss your hands, your feet, and hug you. They were just hysterical."

As he waited for ambulances to arrive to bringing the ex-captives to a local hospital, Sisson was told not to feed them.

"They hadn't eaten for a long time and it would have upset their stomachs. But we gave them some water. We didn't sleep that night after what we had seen in that death house. Your mind just wouldn't let you sleep."

Even years later, after Sisson married and had four children, he made a decision never to talk about Dachau when his family asked about the war.

"I didn't want my memories to be in their head, Dachau and that sort of stuff. I lived with it. … The memories haunt you," he said. "When my kids got into their 20s and 30s, I'd share some things with them, though."

Another unshakeable memory for Sisson is the "bone-rattling" sub-zero temperatures his company endured during the winter months in Belgium.

"That was the coldest winter Belgium ever had in the history of their country. We wore every piece of clothing we had — nothing stayed in our duffel bag. Fortunately, it affected the Germans more than it did us," said Sisson, who remembers the young Nazi troops as "simple farm boys."

"They just come off the farm and they didn't know why they were fighting but they all fell in line with Hitler," he told Newsmax. "They loved Hitler. They just worshipped him."

But as the Allies finally crushed Germany in 1945, those same soldiers, now prisoners of war, turned sullen.

"They wanted to go home. They said, 'Take anything I have and let me go home,'" Sisson recalled.

A question he gets asked — and has a surprising answer for — is what he thinks of George C. Scott's turn as the general in "Patton," which scooped up 10 Academy Awards, including a Best Actor prize for Scott.

"I've never seen it," Sisson admitted.

One dramatization of the war that affected Sisson's family was "Band of Brothers," the 2001 miniseries about American troops in World War II, based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's book.

"I was in kitchen doing something and my sons were in the living room watching it," Sisson said. "The three of them had tears in their eyes and they all they got out of their chairs and came into the kitchen and were hugging me and kissing me."

While he served in the military some 75 years ago, don't believe for a minute that Sisson has lost any of the vitality that made him a top soldier.

"I'm 95 years old and I'm still in my 30 and 40s as far as my health is concerned," he boasted. "I can still play 10 holes of golf and walk the course and drag my bag, I'm not a pushover."

"I Marched With Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army's Greatest Generals" by Frank Sisson with Robert L. Wise is published by William Morrow.

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Not many military veterans in 2020 can look you straight in the eye and say "I marched with Patton" - but Frank Sisson can. Sisson, who served in the Third Army under legendary Gen. George S. Patton, is now 95 years old and has written a compelling book about his service on...
army veteran, book, world war II
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2020-49-19
Monday, 19 October 2020 11:49 AM
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