Happiness is Sometimes a Choice We Make

After his forced bail out and subsequent capture on 8 April 1944, Co-Pilot Vernon Dicke of the 447th Bomb Group was sent to Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany. There he met Otis Montgomery who had flown as a Pilot in the 381st Bomb Group until he was shot down and captured on 5 January 1944. At Stalag Luft I Vernon and Otis shared a room with sixteen other men. Reminiscing about his POW experience in 2000 Vernon wrote, “Life was never all bad in any situation for those of us who chose to be as happy as we could be.” The eighteen roommates at Stalag Luft enjoyed a number of group activities and often played cards, especially bridge. Vernon and Otis played together as partners and attained the accolade, “Number One team in the room.” Chess was another popular pastime. One American pilot who had been blinded by an exploding hydraulic tank in his B-24 learned this game at Stalag Luft I from the British. Although unable to see, he could play five chess games at one time keeping up with the moves on each one. Vernon and Otis decided to carve their own chess set from wood and completed all thirty-two pieces. The chess set is now displayed in the Museum’s POW exhibit.