A Life Anything But Ordinary
(2012) Marvin O. Russell enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became the engineer and top turret gunner for a B-17 crew based out of RAF Podington in Bedfordshire, England. On an April 24, 1944, mission to a military aircraft production plant in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, the crew was forced to bail out of their badly damaged plane.
Marvin was a prisoner of the Germans for more than a year. After Germany surrendered Marvin went home but his “war” wasn’t over. The end of his story is as remarkable as the beginning.
I have known the author, Alex Chrzanowski, as a Roswell High School teacher who accompanied my Rotary Club on four Honor Air trips for WWII veterans to Washington, DC. I had no idea, however, the impact that he has had on his students.
I met up with Alex and Marvin Russell himself at their book signing in Roswell, GA. There was a parade of high school students coming in to meet Marvin, to ask him questions about his service. By the time they finish reading about Marvin’s experiences in the German POW camps they will have a real appreciation of the hardships so many of our WWII Veterans endured … at an age just a year or two older than most of them!
Many times Alex has taken his students to interview veterans in assisted living facilities in an effort to link his students “with living history before its too late.” We hear so often that the current generation of students are not being taught about World War II … the war of their grandparents and great-grandparents.
Not true of those who are fortunate enough to be in the classes of Alex Chrzanowski, a “Teacher Anything but Ordinary.”