COLUMBIA — Ted Vogelweid was a tank commander for the Army when the Allied forces engaged retreating German troops at a strategic bridge across the Rhine River.
The tank commander said he was firing a machine gun during the German attack when when it jammed. He was holding the hatch to keep his balance while he tried to duck down inside the tank to fix the gun when a shell exploded and injured his right hand.
The Purple Heart he received for the injury helped him remember the date: March 5, 1945. There's still shrapnel in his little finger that keeps him from moving it.
"That was a close one," Vogelweid, 93, recalled Friday morning during a breakfast with other veterans at Columbia Regional Airport in advance of the Salute to Veterans Airshow. "I was lucky."
Vogelweid smiled as he watched aerial performances Friday morning that included the Lima Lima Flight Team. It was his first visit to the airshow.
Vogelweid, who lives in Tiger Place, went to the show with his son David Vogelweid, who traveled from the state of California for a weekend visit.
"My Dad always likes planes," David Vogelweid said. "It's nice for him to see some new planes. They are much more advanced compared with his time."
Ted Vogelweid went to Germany in August 1944 and saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive launched toward the end of World War II.
David Vogelweid said his father enjoyed the time in Europe despite the bad memories. "He survived, met some friends there and has been honored," David Vogelweid said.
For Ted Vogelweid, the destination no longer sounds attractive.
"I don’t want to go back," he said.