Interview 224a : In this extensive interview with Jonathan Gerland, East Texas native John O. Booker, Jr. reminisces about his life in East Texas and his time as a Prisoner of War in World War II. Mr. Booker speaks about growing up in Lufkin, his family's experiences in Diboll and Lufkin, and going to Lufkin schools. He also recalls his time at Texas A&M University, which led him to the Army Air Corps, where he became a pilot. He tells about flight training and the treacherous journey across the Atlantic, as well as about his missions over Germany. Shot down over Holland near the end of his tour, Mr. Booker was rescued by Dutch civilians, but was betrayed by his guide that was supposed to take him to Belgium and then France. The Germans took him to Amsterdam for interrogation and then he became a POW at Stalag Luft 1 near the Baltic Sea in Germany, from the Fall of 1943 until the Russians drove out the Germans in Spring 1945. After the war, Mr. Booker returned to East Texas, where he became an engineer for Southern Pine Lumber Company in Diboll. He worked on infrastructure projects in Diboll for several years and then moved to Pineland. He worked on infrastructure projects in Pineland at the mills and in the city and eventually became mayor, a post he held for 21 years.
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