The Capture of Fred Machol
The capture of Major Fred B. Machol 7 May 45 near the town of Volary, Czechoslovakia present day Check Republic. Major Machol was delivering counter sabotage kits to members of the Fifth Division in Volary, Fred had known these men during his years in Iceland with the 21st Field Artillery, Iceland Base Command. The next day Fred headed to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia to get a trailer full of Pilsner Urquell beer. He was going to use this beer as barter to get home to his wife and daughter in Garden City New York. Fred had the points being in the Army since 1940, but also knew how the Army worked, slow. As the Major rounded a corner near Volary a German SS Totenkopf Feldwebell put a lugar to his temple and said you are now my prisoner, in disbelief Major Machol could only think what his parents will think when they learn of his capture and possible death. He was thinking all this for some beer. Since Major Machol spoke and understood German he knew how to communicate with his captors. Looking up on the hill next to a barn he could see 3800 SS Totenkopf troops sitting around hungry thirsty and trying to avoid the Russians. Knowing this Fred spoke to the Kraut Feldwebel telling him he needs to surrender because you know the war is over and do you want the Russians to get a hold of you. After several hours of this negotiations with no end in sight, a group of three P-51 Mustang fighters flew over at a very high altitude. A few minutes later those same three P-51s came back lower and one buzzed the deck doing a wing wag. With that Major Machol told the German Feldwebel this was a signal that they were all about to be strafed, and to put out your surrender panels these are red or white clothes in a x pattern. The Feldwebell then flipped the luger over said kaput we quit. Fred told them to put all of their helmets, luger’s belt buckles and daggers into the mbt trailer attached to his Willy’s jeep. The SS troops then were told to march west where they would be given food and water, Major Machol had no idea where they would get food and water and he didn’t care about those kraut bastards, he drove his jeep west across Germany back to his HQ in Paris missing VE Day 8 May 45, by one day. Fred then started giving his loot to the Women’s Army Corps WACs so they would put his transfer orders, on the top of the Generals desk. These orders were for making a counter sabotage training film on German resistance after the hostilities had ended in the European Theatre of Operations, the film director was non other than Frank Capra who was in New York City to help make these training films, Fred needed to be there as the Army’s expert. So every day for the next 16 days the Wacs would take loot and put Fred’s transfer orders back on top of the Generals desk, finally the General said who in the hell is Fred Machol get him the hell outta here. On 27 May 45 Fred flew from Paris Orly Field to Northern Scotland then onto Reykjavik, Iceland then to Newfoundland then to LaGuardia, New York. He got off the C-47 and kissed the ground at 3:00AM. He talked a cab driver into driving him from LaGuardia to Garden City for $20.00 bucks, when he got there his wife came out of the house screaming with joy, Fred then got to see his daughter Kathy for the first time. Fred went to work with Frank Capra on the training film, when they finished they walked outside in Time Square New York to find screaming jubilant crowds it was August 15th VJ Day. His war was over.
On 27 February 2008 Fred and I found a 1944 Willy’s Jeep that needed full restoration in the city of Laporte Texas. Laporte is right next to Seabrook where Fred has lived since 1967. We bought the jeep and during restoration I found the hood serial number to be 20367811 Fred’s Army serial number was 0367811. We also found out this jeep rolled off the assembly line 12 June 1944. Fred was born 12 June 1916. We also found out this jeep was transported to Normandy France, and yes Fred drove this same jeep in Normandy during the war. Larry Steed headed up the restoration and during that time he found a Willy’s MBT trailer, the same kind Fred had when he was captured and the Germans put their loot in. We restored both the jeep and trailer and on 12 June 2008 Fred’s 92 birthday we had a birthday party for Fred, I had filled the trailer with iced down Pilsner Urquell beer the kind he was trying to get when he was captured 63 years earlier.
I drove up in the driveway of his house with a 100 of his family and friends, he was amazed at the Jeep and trailer, I flipped the canvas cover back from the trailer to reveal the Pilsner Urquell beer, he popped the top, and drank the whole thing and said “I’ve been waiting 63 years for this beer and it’s as good as it gets”. A 63-year beer run was completed that day!