TL Boehm - Writer

Written in my heart

Strong Trees - For the Boehm Family

Collected stories for the Boehms

Left to Right: Tammy, Dave, and Eric Boehm, Steve, Stim, Adele (Boehm) and Jeff Travis, Louis, Fred, Margaret, David, JoAn, Alan and James Boehm - Hawaii 1997

Falling to Grace - For Lou Boehm

Rumbling aloft over Austria, a B 17 Flying Fortress bomber disintegrated in mid air around 19 year-old bombardier Louis Boehm. Partially shielded from the deadly hail of searing metal by the plane’s navigator, Louis bailed out of the doomed plane.  World War II ended in a fireball for seven of his crew mates as the B 17 exploded.   Peppered with shrapnel, and dangling from a parachute over enemy territory Louis prayed “God if you can get me out of this, I give the rest of my life to you.” Would God hold the injured soldier to his promise?

            On April 11, 1944 Barbara Boehm learned her son, Louis M. Boehm had been declared missing in action since the failed bombing over Austria.  One month later, on Mother’s Day, Barbara received news that her son was a prisoner of war in Germany. She would wait another year to see her beloved boy.

            While Louis’ family waited for words regarding their son, Louis focused on survival in a German prisoner of war camp south of Frankfurt. There was no escape from the camps. Lieut. Boehm’s only hope rested in God and the mercy of his captors.  Louis pooled his meager portions of carrots, potatoes and a monthly share of horse meat with eight prison mates. The provision of peat fuel was only enough for cooking. Wooden barracks were unplumbed, unheated, and furnished with bunks and straw mattresses. Occasionally the Red Cross provided instant coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, and seed.  Cigarettes were smoked, traded or used to bribe the prison guards.   The prisoners planted small gardens with the Red Cross seeds, but at night rabbits nibbled the crops while the prisoners were restricted in their barracks. 

            In the midst of uncertainty, Louis found peace. He slept a lot. He worshipped the Lord on Sunday during services held by a captive British chaplain. He read the Bible through twice.

            At the end of the war, Louis returned to his home town, and wife. He applied to become a pastor, but the church sponsoring his studies was unable to support him.  Rather than turn away from his original promise made to God in the skies above war torn Austria, Louis remained patient and obedient.  He attended college and became an engineer to support his family of five. After several successful years in a local machine tooling shop, God led Louis to leave the company with no other job opportunity in sight. Louis obeyed and went home to tell his wife he had quit his job. Four hours later, the telephone rang. Louis was employed by another manufacturing shop.

            As I watched my father-in-law Lou pulling clovers from his impeccably manicured flower garden, tears welled in my eyes. I thought of the times of discomfort in my life when I “promised” myself to God, and then forgot when my life returned to normal. Lou never forgot, and neither did God. The evidence of God’s blessings for a life of service surrounded me like sunlight on a summer day. As I looked past the comfortable house, the giggling grandkids rolling on his lawn, and the successful careers, I saw the true heart of the man before me.  His life was not represented in the yellowed Western Union letters confirming moments of his past. It was not reflected in the Purple Heart, humbly displayed in a small wooden frame in the hallway of his home. Louis had given his life to the Lord. He was at peace with the horrors of his past and his days ahead. Louis Boehm had fallen from a burning hell, not to captivity, but to grace.