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POW Opsahl Released


On this day in 1945, waist gunner Sgt. Roland Opsahl, of Lakota, woke up to unfamiliar silence. He’d been a POW since his plane, “Old Daddy,” was shot down nearly 14 months earlier. Observers said an outboard engine was in flames as the plane spun to the left and crashed. Seven crewmembers parachuted, but the pilot, co-pilot and another waist gunner died.

The survivors were captured and taken to Stalag Luft 1 at Barth, Germany. It had begun as a camp for British officers late in ’42, but when American airmen began arriving early in ‘43, it was expanded into two compounds – one for officers and one for enlisted men. By May Day, 1945, there were almost 9,000 prisoners. The camp was silent that morning, because the guards had fled in the face of the advancing Russian Army, which liberated the prisoners.

Source:, based on materials from the book “Remembrance of the Missing,” by Colonel Robert E. Vickers

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm