Ted Carr was mastering electronics and circuitry in Milwaukee, during World War II when he was called to a rather puzzling meeting somewhere in the vicinity of Naperville. The explanation given to the 17-year-old from Chicago was less than clarifying. “They said they wanted to check up on me to see if they could use me.”
He was accepted into an shadowy operation called the OSS, a precursor to the CIA, and was immediately tested to the limit. “They put me through a week of harassment. It was torment-type. They wanted to see what we could do, how edgy we got.” Apparently Carr passed muster as he was then sent along to Quantico Marine Base in Washington, D.C. to continue his training for a still unclear mission.
Six months of intensive training followed. “You run with a pack on your back for seven miles. You fall on your face with your fingers down. It was so that you could handle what would happen to you,” he explained.
Carr was required to learn Morse Code before being made aware of his mission. “You’re going to meet a Frenchman and he is a spy back in France against the Germans and you will be his radio operator,” they told him.
He met the much older Frenchman and, eventually they reported to Canada to take British parachute training, a highly dangerous endeavor aimed at a much shorter fall from the plane than was standard in U.S. training. “We were down at a hundred feet off the ground and they would open the door and shove us out and the chutes would open immediately. That’s how we were expected to drop in behind enemy lines.”
However the original mission was scrapped when the Frenchman was caught attempting to break into factory to rertrieve data as practice for the German mission. The FBI mistook him for a German spy and beat him to the point where he could no longer continue.
Carr’s superiors told him, “You’re not going to like this,” before dropping him behind enemy lines during the Invasion of Normandy. “It was a real hubbub because we might get shot at,” he said as if the battle was simply a flare of temper at a local bar. “We even were shot by our own people because we never knew what was coming. We had problems.”
“Almost a year later I was in snow seven inches over my head, trying to sleep in a bag,” he continued, running his fingers over notes to remind him of the horror. “My pal that I worked with froze his toes because the jump boots were slim little devils. They dropped heavy boots on us from planes.”
“We went on through the Battle of the Bulge which was no fun for any of the gang. And I ended up in German hands,” he recalled with a bit more emotion. “They thought we were their own spies because they had their own people in our uniforms. It saved our lives. We just drove out. They didn’t bother us. It was the screwiest things that ever happened in my life.”
As Carr’s story continued, he reverted to a nonchalant reading of the list. “They sent us to , where they kept the German officers to bug their cells and we bugged Gerbils and Gorring,” he related, his finger pausing at the words potassium cyanide on his list. “One of them took potassium cyanide. We thought one of our guys had given it to them because we were required to put a capsule in our cheek if we were in a struggle and if we were captured ,we would bite that. That was it,” he said.
“I ended up in Wiesbadden where we were given a home formally owned by a German officer,” he said, his retelling beginning to take on a more upbeat quality. “It was a beautiful home and we had Russian and German girls that cooked for us."
His eyes lit up and he grinned. “Weiner Schnitzel!” he declared in a delighted sing-song voice. “It was one of the nicest things.”
After a moment Carr settled into his story once again. He had driven into town with one of the German cooks named Emma to get supplies. “She hit me and said, ‘Gestapo. That man sent my girlfriend to prison.’”
The woman’s overwhelming distress gave Carr an epiphany. “It told me a great deal about what these people went through when the Gestapo was running things. They had no choice.”
“I carried a pistol in my jacket and I stopped the jeep-and she was just trembling- and I showed him the butt of my pistol and I said, “You’re under arrest.” He stopped. He knew I would blow him away.”
Again, Carr’s mood lightened and a certain boyishness overtook him. “I had a beautiful German dog too. He would listen to me. I’d go out the door and he would come out through that transom. He wouldn’t let me go.”
“That’s about the end of it,” he declared, passing over the blue scrawled paper.
What was it like to go home? “There were people who were glad to see me for a change,” he said with a small laugh.
Finally he added, “When Mr. Truman came along he put us out of business and now its the CIA and they can have all the trouble they want.”
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